Today, we turn our attention to the Western Conference Finals. Picking this series was tough, and it took a while for us to come to a decision on our pick. We finally arrived at one, and we present it here:
No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder
Led by Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs have made it to the Western Conference Finals. The preceding sentence could have been lifted from a preview from so many Conference Finals previews since the Spurs’ Big 3 came together. The run the Spurs have had is simply incredible, and much of the credit for their success should go to Coach Gregg Popovich, their ornery long-time commander. Although this year’s squad faced a tougher-than-expected challenge from Dirk Nowitzki and the resilient Dallas Mavericks in the first round, they breezed through the talented Portland Trail Blazers in the Conference Semis. The Spurs are looking to win their 6th conference title with The Big Fundamental, but will face a tough challenge from regular season MVP Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City.
The Thunder moved past the Clippers in the second round after edging out the Grizzlies in a crazy first round series. The team hasn’t looked very dominant thus far in the playoffs, but the Thunder have talent like no other team in the Association, with the incomparable 1-2 scoring punch of Durant and his partner in crime, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, who missed most of last year’s playoffs due to injury, is playing the best basketball of his career. An unguardable blur, Russ is averaging a ridiculous 27/8/8 in the playoffs. The Thunder will be playing without injured Serge Ibaka, and they’ll miss both his shot blocking services and his mid range J. In his absence, OKC will likely look to backup forward Nick Collison to play big minutes. Meanwhile, gifted slasher Reggie Jackson will have to contribute in a major way on the offensive end. The Spurs will likely stick Kawhi Leonard, a formidable defender with great length, on the sweet shooting Durant. At the top, the matchup of the point guards–Parker vs. Westbrook–should be awesome.
This series should be a good one. These teams last faced off in the playoffs during the 2012 Western Conference Finals; the Thunder took the series and made their first NBA Finals (they went on to lose to Miami in six games). We expect a ferocious battle once again, but the Durant the Spurs saw in 2012 has only gotten better, and the combination of Iceberg Slim and Russell Westbrook is pure unadulterated filth. Losing Ibaka hurts, but look for Oklahoma City’s big guns to come to play.
Pick: Thunder in 6