I know that you many of you who read our family blog are probably not as into sports -namely pro basketball- as I am. But after reading page, after page, after article, after article, after blog… I thought it was my turn to break down the NBA Western Conference Finals between the OKC Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. (Just a fair warning: if you don’t care about the NBA then feel free to back out of reading this post now) 🙂
This WCF (Western Conference Final) is going to be one for the ages. We have the 1 and 2 seeds from the West facing off! Not only that, they are both small market teams that have made their way to NBA Dominance: The Spurs for the past Decade, the Thunder for the past couple of seasons – so we have this match up of the old guard and the new guard (guaranteed, no matter if the Thunder lose this series, they will be around making some noise for seasons to come). We also have the original “Big 3” in Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker vs. one of the newest “Big 3’s” in the league in Durant, Westbrook, and Harden. So as stated above, this match up is going to be one that will definitely go down in the annals of Basketball history.
There is a lot of talk about the Spurs, and their
current Historical 18 game winning streak. My heart pounds just thinking about the reality that we haven’t lost in nearly a month and a half! That is ridiculous! However, every run comes to end and I know that the Thunder will end that streak – I’m just praying it’s not until game 3 in OKC.
Alongside that (and probably the biggest contributor to it), the Spurs, by far, have the deepest team in the league. To think that our end of the bench, trash time point guard is an Olympic Athlete (for Australia… but STILL) that’s saying something. To know that basically any guy on our bench could/would be starting on just about any other team in the league is unbelievable! One of our biggest strengths is that any one -out of 10- players could go off on any given night is awesome. It seems like we’ve always had someone to pick up the slack of someone else. Whether its’ Green and Leonard (a rookie nonetheless) dropping 18 or Diaw hitting a crucial 3, or Tiago bringing a well timed pick-and-roll slam dunk, or Ginobili doing what he does, we always have someone there to give us a lift.
Another argument is our playoff history and veteran leadership.
’nuff said…. but I’ll go ahead and mention that we are the most winning team in all 4 major American team sports this decade.
Lastly, we have once again proved our dominance again in rounds 1 and 2 against the Jazz and Clippers. We smothered a team that they said was “Too Big”, and out ran a team that they said was “Too Athletic”.
I’ve seen lots of Spurs teams (I probably remember a good 19-20 of them -especially all the Duncan era teams) and I can tell that this Spurs Team is Special!
The Thunder have been incredible these past 2-3 seasons. They move cities, have the worst season ever, and comeback full-force heading into the playoffs 3 seasons straight. Not only that but are in a back-to-back opportunity to win the West. I have got to give my props there for sure! Incredible!
The Fans: I usually don’t worry about the Spurs when it comes to homecourt advantage. We typically do well away from home (i.e. closeout games in LA and, one of the most notorious home crowds, SLC, Utah). However, the OKC fans are nuts. I noticed this at my first Thunder/Spurs game back when OKC was still terrible. They were down by 18 and it still sounded like it was a playoff game. The Thunder actually managed to rallyback and win that game and by the end of the night, I think my ears rang for a week. I see it this way: Take a bunch of raucous white folk who are used to cheering on their favorite college football team in a stadium and put a lid on that stadium… These people are used to screaming outdoors, not inside. I don’t think they know how to bring it down to there inside voices… and that is awesome… frankly, makes me a tad jealous. Glad we
have earned the homecourt this round.
The Youth: Although the Spurs have gotten loads younger this year, with an average age around 27 or something like that, I want to say, we’re not nearly as old as everyone writes us off as. However, the rub lies in the fact that our big 3 are now all into their 30s where as OKC’s big three are hovering around 25 yrs old. Other than fisher being older than dirt (yes he is older than Timmy D), the rest of the Thunder support cast is young and hungry. Edge to the Thunder
Riding high: They swept the “Reigning Champ”* Dallas Mavericks (*More on the asterisk later), and although they didn’t sweep LA, they beat them in pretty sound fashion (The Lakers are the champs from the year before the Mavs). So OKC is feeling good and like they’re chances now that they have some experience against some big guns
The Thunder are rolling, and the Spurs are dominating. Sunday is truly going to be a clash of two NBA Titans, and I fully believe that the winner of this series will go on to be crowned NBA Champs. I can’t wait to get this started.
I leave with these last few thoughts on the match-ups and my prediction.
As mentioned, the Spurs are on a historical run here. It won’t last forever, but they have lots of momentum and lots of depth to carry them through. The Thunder are riding high on their round 1 and 2 victories as well. However, not to discredit what they’ve done, but to get to my asterisk in the above paragraph, I think annalists are giving a little too much weight to the Thunder in their wins, and taking away from what the Spurs have done in theirs.
I don’t/didn’t see Dallas as the reigning champs this year. In fact, I rarely see any team as the reigning champs unless they bring back their core and prove themselves. Dallas lost several key players in the off-season, got off to a rocky start, and never fully recovered. They struggled to enter the playoffs as the 7th seed that they did, and did not play like champions all year, much less in the playoffs. I’m not discrediting them, just saying that I think anyone has to admit that this was clearly not the team that won it all in last season. Secondly, LA was not the LA of old. Pau showed no dominance like he has in the past. He was essentially a ghost in the series. When he’s your #2 guy and the TNT analyst says that Kobe should have never passed him the ball at the end of the game for the winning shot, that’s saying something (and it aint anything good). No one would ever say that if TP dumped it off to Duncan, Ginobili, or a handful of other Spurs in the same situation.
Artest World Peace was clearly not into the series, and more into himself. And Bynum was as immature as ever. This was not a championship team. There really was no “team” at all. What the Thunder have done to get this point is nothing less than impressive, but the Spurs will be a completely different animal to beat.
The Spurs have been discredited by some (not by all) in the fact that they took down 2 clearly inferior teams. The problem with that statement is that most people said that the Jazz were “Too Big/Young” and said that they would take the upset much like the Grizz did last year. Now that they got swept, the pundits say “they were no good”. A little flip-flop on the stance if you ask me. It was the same thing in LA. Before-hand “They’re too athletic/young”. Now, once again. “They didn’t stand a chance” “They were the 5th seed” “They were too banged up” “they weren’t ready”. Flip-flop of opinion again?
I know this has been a long post, but this is one thing that I am passionate about. I love my Spurs! On the same note, I try to be as unbiased as I can when I state my opinion… it’s hard… but I try…
I sum all this up to say that the Thunder are good! Really Good!
…But this year, the Spurs are better! I kind of feel bad because I think, otherwise, the Thunder had a shot. I don’t feel bad because I miss that championship feeling, and the Spurs have worked just as hard to get to this point one more time.
I’m calling it – Spurs in 6.
It will be a tough series. But ultimately I think the Spurs have too much depth. They are playing good (if not great) team defense again and have way too many options on the offensive end. I want the “Drive for 5” to stay alive! Cant Wait for Sunday 7:30pm!!!! Get here soon!
And, GO SPURS GO!!!!