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.
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