The NBA's only two 19-win teams get the week off to a great start Monday night when the San Antonio Spurs head to Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder are the hottest team in the NBA, riding a 10-game winning streak into Monday night. That is the longest win streak for the Thunder in the Oklahoma City era and a victory on Monday would give the franchise its longest run of wins since November of 1996.
Oklahoma City owns the best record in the league and has been dominant offensively. The Thunder are first in the NBA in points per game, free-throw percentage, 3-point shooting percentage and point differential. They are second in field-goal percentage.
The Thunder, who will conclude a five-game homestand Monday night, have been playing defense as well. They rank 11th in opponents' scoring and third in opponents' field-goal percentage. During this recent run of dominance, Oklahoma City has allowed 100 points or more four times.
"They all have to be committed to it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I think everybody competes on the defensive end. That's what makes us a good defensive team."
The Thunder, whose last win came Friday night over the Sacramento Kings, will need to play great defense in this showdown to become the first 20-win team. The Spurs are the second-best offensive team in the NBA.
San Antonio halted a two-game losing streak on Saturday night with a home victory over the Boston Celtics, 103-88. After games of 132 and 134 points before the mini-slide, the Spurs got things clicking again on the offensive side against Boston.
"I thought we really kept our composure," said head coach Gregg Popovich. "I thought after a long road trip it was nice to see them come out that way. It's usually tough after a trip, that first game at home. We had a lot of guy play well."
The Spurs were away from home for four games and came back with a balanced effort. Tony Parker was huge in the fourth quarter and netted 20 points to go with eight assists.
Gary Neal added 20, Tiago Splitter had 16 and Danny Green chipped in 12. Tim Duncan was held to five points, but grabbed 12 boards and had two blocks.
Manu Ginobili left with 2:42 to go in the first quarter when he bruised his left quad after a collision with Celtics' forward Chris Wilcox. Ginobili's availability for Monday night is unknown.
If Monday's contest is anything like the first time these two titans battled this season, fans are in for a treat. The Spurs bested the Thunder 86-84 in San Antonio on Nov. 1.
It was the Spurs' second game of the season and the first for the Thunder and Parker swished a jumper as the clock expired to give the Spurs the hard-fought win.
The Spurs have owned the Thunder of late with a 9-1 mark in the last 10 meetings. San Antonio has won five of its last six in Oklahoma City.