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NBA playoff scores 2016: The Spurs showed everyone they have another gear

San Antonio played better than it ever did in the regular season and destroyed a legitimate contender with ease.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs had some tough losses to end the regular season, rested some players from time to time and cruised past the Grizzlies in the first round. It was hard to really gauge whether they were peaking at the right time or not. Saturday's 124-92 demolition of the Thunder in Game 1 left no doubts about it: San Antonio is now playing better than ever.

With the Warriors looking vulnerable arguably for the first time in the entire season, the matchup between the Spurs and the Thunder became even more important than it would have typically been. The winner of the series will get a spot in the West finals where Golden State will likely be waiting. Neither San Antonio nor Oklahoma City had matched the superlative level the reigning champion had showed, so this was a chance to see if either had another gear.

It's only been one game but the Spurs showed they do.

They won't likely score 43 points in a quarter again in the playoffs, but the fact that they managed to do that while making only three three-pointers shows how dominant they can be inside. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge simply destroyed any defender in their path on their way to post buckets and layups while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili distributed the ball like it was 2014 and the Thunder were the Heat. The Spurs have successfully merged two offensive styles without losing their core identity.

On defense, Gregg Popovich decided to go for the jugular from the tip-off, instead of waiting for a quarter or two like he typically does. He sicced Kawhi Leonard on Russell Westbrook, forcing the Thunder's point guard into turnovers and bad shots. According to possessions tracked by SB Nation's Tom Ziller, Leonard was on Westbrook for 32 of the total 43 defensive possessions on which he was on the court. The Thunder scored just 27 points, fewer than one per possession.

Leonard could make Westbrook's life hell because Danny Green did a terrific job on Kevin Durant while Kyle Anderson held his own in limited minutes. Durant finished with 16 points on 15 shots and never looked comfortable. The Spurs made sure he had to work hard just to get the ball and with Leonard on Westbrook, the 1-3 pick-and-roll that the Thunder trot out whenever the defender is playing ball denial simply doesn't work. The switch only gets a tougher matchup on him.

There was no experimentation or free passes this time around. In the first truly big test, the Spurs didn't keep any tricks up their sleeves. They tried to play their best basketball. The result was a 32-point trouncing of one of the best teams in the league.

Some might say San Antonio tipped its hand too early. The Thunder will surely adjust. There won't be any more games in which one of these teams leads by 43 points. Oklahoma City might even come back to win this series. It's just Game 1, after all.

The question of whether the Spurs could up their game when needed, however, has been thoroughly answered. Right now, with Curry's knee looming large in the Warriors' future and with the Thunder humbled after a blowout, San Antonio has to be considered the favorite to come out of the West.

2 other things we learned

Offensive rebounding could be huge for the Thunder going forward

The Thunder were expected to have an edge on the glass and that proved to be true in Game 1. They had 11 offensive rebounds to the Spurs' one in the first half, when the starters for both teams were still playing. Steven Adams simply had his way inside after misses, collecting four all on his own.

That's one area in which Oklahoma City will continue to have an edge. San Antonio lacks size up front and there's only so much 40-year-old Tim Duncan can do. If they can continue to punish the Spurs on the glass, those extra possessions will allow them to survive some offensive droughts and will eventually wear out the Spurs' bigs. They need to keep sending their center after those boards.

LaMarcus Aldridge is still a star

With Leonard emerging as one of the best players in the league and after struggling to adjust to a new team earlier in the year, some were starting to doubt Aldridge's star credentials. There was even a minor controversy when he made the All-Star game, as there were other players who had better numbers.

A 38-point performance against the physical Thunder front line will serve as a nice reminder of how deadly a weapon Aldridge can be, especially when his shot is falling. He went 18-for-23 from the floor and 13-for-15 in shots outside of the paint but inside the arc.

Aldridge shot chart

If Aldridge can continue to hit that in-between shot, his defender will have to leave the paint to contest, which will open up plenty of room for cutters and ball handlers to get easy buckets. Aldridge's unique skill set is a huge reason why the Spurs' offense is still elite despite not having as much three-point shooting as it did in the past.

Play of the night

You know it's your night when shots like this one are going in.

3 fun things

The Spurs tied a franchise record for most points scores in a quarter with 43. Their shot chart was a sea of green.

President Barack Obama did his best Kobe Bryant impersonation by ending his speech at the correspondent's dinner with "Obama out."

A Drake meme made Shaq so mad he walked off the set of Inside the NBA.

Final scores

Spurs 124, Thunder 92 (Pounding the Rock recapWelcome to Loud City recap)

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Kawhi Leonard frustrated Lance Stephenson in the first round