Series to Watch: Thunder vs. Spurs
On Monday, May 19th, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will face off at the AT&T Center. The number one and two seeds were both predicted to advance to the Conference Finals, and with good reason.
The Thunder wrapped up its series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. Oklahoma City and its MVP Kevin Durant enter the Conference Finals riding a two game win streak and are undoubtedly a dangerous opponent. Kevin Durant is coming off a 39 point outing, putting up an additional 16 rebounds and 5 five assists against the Clippers. Although point guard Russell Westbrook has struggled lately, he should also bounce back against the Spurs. Favorited to advance, OKC should put up a hard fight against the former Western Conference champs.
The San Antonio Spurs finished off Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers 4-1 in the 2nd round. The Spurs appeared dominant, shooting over 7% higher than Portland in Game 5. Surprise stars Danny Green and Kawaii Leonard led the team with 22 points each, shooting a combined 18 for 28 in the final match. To go along with the Green-Leonard duo, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and, Manu Ginobli have had a very strong 2014 playoffs thus far. The veteran trio has a combined 49 points per game throughout the playoffs, each with at least 14 points per game.
The Thunder and Spurs are very similar. Both have powerful trios, the Thunder with Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka, the Spurs with Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli. San Antonio obviously has a more veteran presence, but the fast paced Thunder have made plenty of deep playoff runs, notably two years ago before its defeat to eventual champion Miami Heat. In fact, with Miami expected to advance to the Finals, there will most likely be a repeat matchup for the title, as both the Thunder and Spurs have squared off against the Heat in the championship within the past two years.
This will be the most competitive series of this year’s playoffs thus far, but the Thunder will ultimately prevail. If Durant and Westbrook can continue to dominate late in the series, there’s no doubt the Thunder will return to the NBA Finals.
Matchup to watch: Westbrook vs. Parker
Prediction: Thunder in 7
- Tim Sauchuk is a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.com