It’s been a rough go-around so far for the top two seeds in the East, but it’s been rather smooth sailing for the top dogs in the West, at least from a win-loss standpoint. With opening round sweeps of the Jazz and Mavericks respectively, and 2-0 series lead on the two LA franchises, the Spurs and Thunder look geared up for a heavy-weight matchup in the Conference finals.
They’re two teams with completely different identities, strength’s, and focuses, and although they’ve both dominated their playoff opponents so far, which team has shown us more so far this post-season?
The San Antonio Spurs
I’ll admit it. Even though San Antonio cruised into the playoffs this year, beating many of the league’s top contenders on the way, I still didn’t consider them a top candidate for the NBA title. I thought that last year’s first-round flop against Memphis signaled the end of an era in San Antonio. With the Bulls, Thunder, and Heat all being lead by young superstars looking to prove their stripes, I thought the Spurs would be on the outside looking in when June came around.
But right now it looks like it’s going to take a monumental effort to even take a game from the talented team, let alone four out of seven.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THEM RIGHT NOW:
- They’ve won 16 consecutive games and haven’t lost in over a month.
- They’ve won all their playoff games by double digits except for the 6-point elimination game against Utah.
- Tony Parker looks to be at the top of his game, significantly out-performing fellow point-guard Chris Paul in last night’s game two and he could very well be the top point guard in the playoffs right now.
- The team’s role players are exceeding all expectations. From Kawhi Leonard’s defensive hustle to Boris Diaw’s savvy offensive awareness to Danny Green’s clutch shooting, the Spurs are getting everything they need and more from their supporting cast.
- Defensively, you couldn’t ask for anymore right now. Chris Paul has been constantly hurried and relentlessly shadowed and I can’t say I’ve ever seen him appear to be more frustrated. And Blake Griffin’s been almost invisible so far.
MY BIGGEST QUESTIONS GOING FORWARD:
- How worthy have their opponents been so far? Utah has all kinds of trouble in the backcourt and no hint of depth in the form that San Antonio has it. The Clippers, on the other hand, are full of athleticism and talent, but they’re entering their first playoff run after a condensed regular season and are built more towards the future with their collection of youth.
- Will the three’s continue to fall? Youngsters like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green will have a lot of pressure on them the later we go into the playoffs. Ginobili’s been deep before, but how will the younger shooters fare when each shot matters more? The Spurs lean pretty heavily on that three-ball to power their offense.
- Just how good is this defense? Although shutting down one of the game’s top point guards in CP3 is a remarkable feat, the Thunder have three prime scorers that can burn you on the outside or in the lane. While I trust that Pop will once again draw up a genius game-plan, the Thunder just have so many ways to attack that it may not matter.