#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #2 Oklahoma City Thunder
Overview: This series features arguably the two hottest teams in the NBA right now. The Spurs come roaring in, sweeping their first two opponents and also on an 18-game win streak. The Thunder cruise in after sweeping last year's champion Dallas Mavericks and taking down Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Both teams will be well-rested for Game 1, so health should not be an issue for either the Thunder or the Spurs. Both teams are built around a "Big 3," have a lot of depth, and are heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals. This matchup has the potential to be one of the most exciting and thrilling faceoffs in the history of the NBA Playoffs. I honestly believe whoever wins this series will win the championship this year, but only time will tell.
Oklahoma City's advantage: Kevin Durant. The Spurs are deep, but I don't know if anybody can shut down Durant. He had a bunch of great games against the Lakers last round, and I expect him to do the same this time around. Durant is what Stephen A. Smith would call "a baller," because he's lengthy, fast, can attack the basket, and also shoot from the perimeter. Kevin Durant was a runner up for MVP this year, and although Spurs guard Tony Parker was a dark horse for the MVP, I don't believe any player on the Spurs comes close to having as much individual skill as Durant.
|Kevin Durant is primed to have the series of his young career, but|
will he be able to propel the Thunder to earn a trip to the NBA Finals?
San Antonio's advantage: The ability to spread the ball around. Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook are about even when it comes to skills, but if there's one part of the game in which Parker is better than Westbrook, it is their effectiveness when they move the ball around. Parker is an established veteran and is a better creator and passer than Westbrook. Gregg Popovich has also convinced his team that if they play as a team and work for each other, they will be this year's NBA champions. His team rarely sets isolation plays, and instead they play an inside-out post game where they dump it in to players who can create down low like Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, and then they pass it out to the open shooter on the wing or in the corner.
|Leonard (right) has thrived under the mentoring of his coach,|
Gregg Popovich (left). Leonard's gritty defense and newfound
ability to shoot treys made him an All-Rookie first teamer.
Prediction: Spurs over Thunder, 4-3.
Thanks for reading! My next entry will be about the Eastern Conference Finals, as we await to see who the Miami Heat will face. In Game 7, will the veteran Boston Celtics led by its own "Big 3" consisting of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen make a push for one last run, or will the young, suprising Philadelphia 76ers pull off a second consecutive upset? Stay tuned!