NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Finals

And here we are! It is now time that we crown a Western Conference champion. The Western Conference has been much more exciting than the Eastern Conference this entire year. One reason is that it was a toss up for who could win it. In the East most people, if not everyone, had the Heat winning it with ease and that was the consensus. In the West there were many teams that could have made a run at it. You had the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, CP#, Blake Griffin and the Clippers, and you could have even thrown the tough, athletic Grizzlies in there. But there were always two favorites that stood out among the West, and they are both meeting in the Western Conference Finals. The #1 seed San Antonio Spurs bring experience and teamwork to the battle, as the #2 seed OKC Thunder bring youth, athleticism and 2 superstars to the battle, but this series won’t be a battle, it will be a war.

The San Antonio Spurs road a long winning streak at the end of the regular season into the #1 slot, and that streak continues today. The Spurs have won 18 of their last 21 games, which is extremely impressive for a team of their age. The Spurs may not be the youngest team (average age: 30 years old), but they bring an experience and team oriented style that has succeeded throughout the year for them. The Spurs roster has 6 players that have played in a conference championship/NBA Finals series (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, Diaw, S. Jackson, Bonner). The Thunder have 1 (Derek Fisher). The Spurs continue to be lead by PG Tony Parker who is averaging (18, 7, 3), but he is not the only player playing well. Future HOF Tim Duncan has been holding his side of the deal as well, averaging (17,9,3). Stud 6th man, Manu Ginobli, has been bringing energy as well as scoring off of the bench for the Spurs. A big advantage that the Spurs may have in this series is sitting or standing at the top of the bench. His name is Gregg Popovich. The NBA’s Coach of the Year this year, has been leading this Spurs team throughout the playoffs and has led them to this great record in the last 20 games. Known for his short responses and stonewall demeanor, Popovich now needs to get ready to face the best duo in basketball this Sunday.

Durant and Westbrook, Westbrook and Durant, whichever way you put it, it works. The OKC Thunder have been on a roll throughout the playoffs, defeating two former champions, easily. The Thunder were able to sweep the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, and rollover the LA Lakers, 4-1. The Thunder now need to get ready for their best opponent throughout the playoffs and possibly throughout the season, the San Antonio Spurs. The key for the Thunder will be to keep feeding their two thoroughbreds, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both have been fantastic throughout the playoffs, and they will look to continue what they have already ben doing. Durant has been the star, averaging (28,8,4), and hitting big shot after big shot. Whether it was the game winning shot in Game 1 over the Mavericks, or the go ahead 3-pointer over the out reached hand of Metta World Peace in Game 4 versus the Lakers. Not to be overshadowed, Russell Westbrook has also been fantastic. Westbrook is the man who gets the Thunder going, physically and emotionally. He has averaged (24,5,4) through this postseason and looks to continue his success against the Spurs. Although those two have been the leaders for the Thunder we can’t leave out a few players that have helped the Thunder dominate this years playoffs. James Harden, the 6th Man of the Year, brings just about everything you can bring off the bench. Not only does he score, he is able to distribute the ball and guard just about anyone defensively. And if we are talking defense we are talking both Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. These two were able to shut down the top front court in the entire league in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Their length and size help them rebound the ball, block shots and disrupt shots all over the defensive end. Ibaka is averaging 6 rebounds and 5 blocks in the postseason and Perkins is averaging 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, but stats don’t show just how important these two are to the teams success.

We have some great match ups in this series. We have arguably the 2 best PG’s in the NBA going at it in Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. The key to this match up will be who will be the better defender between the two. If one or the other isn’t all there defensively, they will get torched. Parker and Westbrook are the two players that get their respective teams going. If either one of them can get going, the opposing team may be in trouble. Another great matchup will be how both front courts handle each other. It seems that Ibaka will more than likely be guarding Tim Duncan, and I’m interested to see how Duncan handles Ibaka’s length and quickness. The most intriguing and important match up of the entire series will be the two 6th men, Manu Ginobli and James Harden. These two players are the keys and X-Factors for their teams and who ever can play better will be able to help their team get important victories.

I am very excited to watch this series because we are bringing together two different styles of basketball. The Spurs are a slow it down, team-oriented, move the ball around offense, whereas the Thunder like to get the ball to their scorers and see what they can do. As always this game will be one on the defensive side of the ball. Both teams are able to score, but the winner will be the team that is able to defend. The Spurs have experience and excellent basketball I.Q., but I believe that the youth and athleticism of the Thunder will wear down the Spurs later in the series. But don’t get me wrong, this series won’t be a short one.

  • Thunder in 7

Dates/Times/Locations of Games

Game 1

Sun 5/27
8:30 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs

Game 2

Tue 5/29
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs

Game 3

Thu 5/31
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Thunder

Game 4

Sat 6/2
8:30 PM ET on TNT @ Thunder

Game 5

Mon 6/4
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs

Game 6

Wed 6/6
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Thunder

Game 7

Fri 6/8
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs

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