West Conference Finals Preview

The Juggernauts Collide: Spurs vs. Thunder Predictions and Analysis

5/27/12 in NBA   |   GeorgeMon   |   159 respect

The San Antonio Spurs versus the Oklahoma City Thunder matchup for NBA Western Conference championship has the feel of an old heavyweight title fight, the kind that boxing used to produce. This matchup is big- Ali vs. Frazier big or for the youngsters, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao big.

This is a matchup between two small market teams, with savvy GMs and coaches that intelligently built their franchise by drafting superstars who only care about basketball and then putting quality players around them. This is a matchup between two eerily similarly franchises that play fundamental basketball, and continually make savvy decisions on and off the court.

Mar, 16, 2012; Oklahoma City  OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) eye the ball during the game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIREWestbrook vs. Parker will be a key matchup throughout the series

The problem for Oklahoma in this series is that they are exactly like the Spurs in most areas, and even though they are a younger version, San Antonio is still the better team. Tony Parker is just as explosive of a scorer as Westbrook, but Parker makes better decisions with the ball and does not get his team in trouble by jacking up crazy shots. Harden and Ginobili cancel each other out, even though I firmly believe that Manu is the better player and more efficient scorer.

The only advantage that the Thunder really has is Kevin Durant. Basketball is a sport where a transcendent player can take over a game or series all by himself, and Kevin Durant is that player. It’s easy to over look the two game winners he made against the Lakers and scratch it off as a Los Angeles melt down. But the degree of difficulty on both of those shots was of the highest degree, and there are only a handful of players in the league who could have hit those shots.

If OKC is going to win this series they are going to have to slow the game down and get into a low scoring, grind out every basket affair. It’s almost counter intuitive to suggest that a team as young and explosive as the Thunder need to slow the tempo down to beat the Spurs, but it’s completely accurate. San Antonio has been an offensive Juggernaut all season that thrives on transition basketball and generating easy points. The Spurs have a deeper bench and better three point shooters and when you play up tempo basketball you need both to succeed.

If OKC can slow down the tempo and not let the Spurs shooters get into any kind of rhythm then they will have a great shot at making it to the NBA Finals. But if they try and trade blows with the Spurs in high scoring games, the Spurs will easily walk into their fifth finals appearance in 13 years. The Spurs have the better team, but OKC has the best player in the series. And whenever you have a transcendent player anything can happen.

Prediction: This is Kevin Durant’s year and he will not be denied. The Thunder win in 6
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5/28/12   |   GeorgeMon   |   159 respect

I agree about the Westbrook stuff, he took 2 more shots than Durant last night.  I just don't think OKC has the fire power to get into a scoring match up with the Spurs. I still think OKC has a shot but te Spurs look scary.

5/28/12   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

I completely dissagree with your assesment of what the Thunder need to do.  They need to keep SA in a half-court game, true, but they need to run on the Spurs.  The Spurs 1/2 court defense is much better than thier transition defense, so that's where the Thunder need to attack.  I also think that Durant has to take over, he has to get the ball from Westbrook and he has to take the bulk of the shots because that's the only advantage they have over the Spurs.

Having said all that, the Spurs should win this series in 5 games and I would not be at all surprised if they win it in 4.