Thunder, Spurs Back To The Starting Line In Western Conference Finals





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – After each and every game in this hotly contested Western Conference finals, the urge to make grand predictions about the final outcome has hit all of us.

Two games in it seemed as if the Spurs would not lose. They were unblemished since April 11 and hadn’t shown any signs of slowing down, not even against a Thunder team considered by many to be the closest thing to their equal at this point of the season.

Two games later it’s hard to see how the Thunder could have gotten their noses rearranged the way they did in those first two games. They drafted on the energy of their home crowd and the adjustments made after Games 1 and 2, and showed us all that invincibility in this series has a 48-hour shelf life and has yet to make it through airport security.

If anything, all we know after four games is that this series is everything we imagined it would be when the conference semifinals ended and the matchup was made. The Spurs and Thunder head back to the starting line for Monday night’s Game 5 like it’s May 27 all over again, heavyweights set to do battle in what now boils down to a best of-3 series with the Thunder needing to crack the Spurs’ armor on their home floor.

Anyone wanting to revise their predictions on this series from five or six games to the full and epic seven will not be penalized. There really is only a sliver of difference between these two teams, and in this series it remains that home court advantage. (That third quarter lead the Thunder couldn’t hold on to in Game 1 might very well turn out to be the defining moment of this series.) These teams are a combined 13-0 at home in this postseason.

Both teams have seen their superstars perform at the their standard levels at times, with Tony Parker carrying the banner in San Antonio and Kevin Durant doing the same in Oklahoma City. Both teams needed surprise performances from someone else to get the business done, a season-high 26 points from Manu Ginobili bolstered the cause for the Spurs at home while Serge Ibaka responded with a perfect and career playoff-high 26 points of his own in Game 4 last night in Oklahoma City.

You heard it after Game 2, “when the Spurs’ role players bring it the way they did tonight and Parker and Ginobili do their thing, they can survive a 2-for-11 shooting performance from Tim Duncan and still win.”

You’ll hear something similar today regarding the Thunder, “when Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison shoot 22-for-25 from the floor and Durant score 16 straight points during crunch time, no one in basketball can beat this team.”

Of course, none of these things transpire in a vacuum. And what looks inevitable today and invincible tomorrow can be undone in matter of minutes the day after that.

If it’s strictly about the venue and the home team owning both the tangible and cosmic advantages when they are playing in their comfort zone, then we know the script for these next three games — yes, that would be three more games.

“The pressure is always on the road team,” TNT’s Charles Barkley said last night. “San Antonio did not have to win here [in OKC], OKC has to win in San Antonio.”

Shaquille O’Neal followed that up with this reasonable prediction, “whoever wins the next game will win the series.”

But this is one of those cases where conventional wisdom might not apply.

That experience gap between the seasoned Spurs and the young Thunder was rendered useless in Games 3 and 4. That gulf in coaching genius between reigning Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich and 2010 winner Scott Brooks doesn’t seem so enormous now, does it?

If you didn’t know better, you’d struggle to pick out the team whose core has combined for four championships during their time together and the team whose core group is in just its fourth season together.

If this series turns out to be the epic, seven-game classic so many wished, hoped and believed it could be, the one player who has proved to be a virtually unstoppable force for either side (Durant) should realistically give his team the edge …

Then again, what looks inevitable today and invincible tomorrow can be undone in matter of minutes the day after that.

Luckily, we don’t have to wait that long to find out how the next chapter in this saga plays out.


33 Comments

  1. Lucas says:

    PLEASE SEKOU!, WRITE AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE SPURS AGE AND ALL THAT… IT MAKES THEM YOUNGER AND GIVES THEM A BOOST FOR TONIGHT GAME SO THEY CAN SHOW YOU WRONG!

  2. Lucas says:

    Where were all these okc fans hidding during game 1 and 2?!!!!!
    now they are coming out disrespecting a team that had won 4 nba titles!and still has home court adventage and three more games to play!
    Please OKC FANS!FIRST YOU HAVE TO WIN SOMETHING BEFORE TALKING ABOUT BRIGHT FUTURE AND TITLES! WHY DON´T YOU LEARN ABOUT THE TEAM THAT YOU PLAY TONIGHT MAYBE!

    • spursfan says:

      1. OKC fans were not hiding AT ALL 2. No one is disrespecting the Spurs. and 3. The Thunder obviously have a bright future and their time is coming very soon
      But hopefully this year it’s the Spurs time. GO SPURS GO

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Wow, Lucas werent you one of the fans in here calling for a sweep? now you get all upset because you lost 2 games and want to call out OKC fans? Lets see what happens, i know i gave the spurs a lot of credit before entering this series, tired of hearing how great the spurs are and when they lose its because they played bad not that OKC played well. Go away with all that, may the best team win!

  3. Thunder Up says:

    Unlike the TNT experts I beleive the pressure is on the home team not the road team. While the home team always feel more confortable at home and the role players ussually perform better. The road team is expected to loose, therefore the home team has to protect home court…Now when you have a young team like the thunder that ussually play very good on the road, the pressure is on the home team to not let them steal one. I know game 5 is going to be a dog fight, but my prediction is the thunder will steal game 5 from the spurs…Defense on Parker and defending the pick and roll is the key to win in San antonio. However if the thunder have a slow start and turn the ball over alot in that game. The series will go seven where anything can happen.

    GO THUNDER…Beat the SPURS

    • .....justplayball !! says:

      ….the pressure is on the young team…… the one that has NEVER won a Conference final…… that’s where All of the pressure is…. home OR away!!!

  4. Tony from Sydney says:

    The momentum shift is critical at this time of the series. OKC has all the momentum, and for young guys like this group all they need is confidence. Forget about experience. The value of experience at this point of time is diminishing every minute for the spurs. Unless they figure out a method to slow down the thunder, and especially now that their bigs are also scoring at will, it will be very tough for the Spurs to win this series. Yes it’s true that their bigs won’t be repeating the performance they had in game 4, but will Harden and Westbrook also repeat their performance in game 4? I don’t think so. These guys as you can see never give up and once they are confident, they will beat u to death. OKC willl take the series, whether its 6 or 7 games, it’s a great series by all means. The great storyline will continue, as OKC goes on to beat another world champ, and there will be another one coming in the finals. I don’t think any team in NBA history has accomplished that feat, by winning the championship while defeating 4 world champs in the last 10 years! Good luck OKC.

    • Noel says:

      duhhh… do you think they can beat the spurs? no way…. they are playing the best basketball right now…. and the Jedi Master (Popovich) can take it all for his fifth nba champ this year….. Scott Brooks must learn from the jedi Master and how he plays the big boy game.

    • TimmyD says:

      Are you serious right now? The Thunder big men AVERAGE about 12 points a game! When Westbrook shoots less than 15 attempts the Thunder have a WAY better record then when he goes over. When Westbrook has his ball-hogging mind set he takes away shots from Durant and “the others”. If Westbrook scores more points, and the Thunderr big play like they have their entire careers the Thunder have NO chance of winning both games in San Antonio. Please, try to argue the facts.

      GO SPURS!

      • OKCKD35 says:

        no chance at winning like game 1? where we were up by 9 in the 4th until the refs went whistle happy? Spurs fans keep talking about the winning streak and how great the Spurs are. How does the losing streak feel? Would have not had 20 games in a row if they played OKC a few times :)

  5. Jamie says:

    which ever team wins, i just hope they beat the Heat ( if they actually beat the old timer C’s ) lol.

  6. spec says:

    The way OKC is playing makes me think that Lakers were not so bad… :-) LOL
    To the point – Thunder were impressive in Game 4, but Spurs were in a reach to take the win. They were down 2 in the forth, the game was 2 possessions game till the end… I mean OKC needed extraordinary performance from their bigs to make a lead, and then even more epic plays from their star to hold it. I mean – the Spurs don’t need to change anything – they need only two stops in the forth, or more likely – Ibaka to miss a shot.
    I’m just saying – let’s be thankful that we have a chance to see to equally great teams in such an epic fight. Let the better one (or the luckier) win!

  7. TIMBERRRwolves says:

    Off-topic, but I like how there is a sharp contrast between posts on these blogs about small-market teams and blogs about the Lakers :P

  8. PC says:

    Home court is definitely a huge advantage. For OKC to win Western Conference Champ Title, they need to win on the road. That is a given in playoff history for road teams. For Spurs to win Western Champ Title, they just need to win game 5; especially any series that is tied at 2-2. Whichever team wins game 5, will have a great confidence boost and shatter the losing team’s confidence possibly. But that is history proven. And history always changes. The team losing game five can still bounce back to win it all.

    My prediction for the thrill of it, if OKC can hold their defense the way they’ve been doing for Games 3 and 4, the title;s in their grasp. If they collapse in their defense in any way, they will walk home sooner than expected. Plus, OKC has a superstar closer in KD. Spurs: as good as their offensive scheme is, it is somewhat easily exploited. Which is “contain Tony Parker”. Stop him and look after Ginoboli and the Spurs is done. SAS offense starts with Tony Parker. Tim Duncan just can’t carry his team over the top by himself anymore, not like the days of old TD. Whereas OKC has 3 star players in Durant-Westbrook-Harden, each capable of exploding at any given time. And they just proven Sefolosha and Ibaka can carry the load too.

    Prediction: OKC takes it home this series.

  9. Spurs Fan says:

    People tend to forget that this was a condensed season and Spurs tied Chicago for the #1 seed. Theyre the ONLY team in the NBA to win both back to back to backs. Trust that its not tiredness, OKC plays good on their home floor.. not to mention they had to have a unblievable game from their bigs just to win by 6. Hats off to em, but do that on the Spurs floor :D

    • QuestionMark says:

      They got beat by 20 last game, and after winning two games straight they have confidence they can win in San Antonio.

    • Spurrred says:

      I agree the Thunder are an amazing team, but how often can you expect 22-25 from the big of OKC. They have championships in the future but this year is a learning curve for them. Spurs today Thunder tomorrow.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      everyone keeps talking about the bigs going off and they wont again and thats why the spurs will win, dont think Westbrook and Harden will score less than 20 combined points either. If we played our normal game and the bigs went off like that San Antonio would have had another 20 point butt whoopin like game 3!

  10. OKC evened up the series behind the mature play of KD and Westbrook..maturity is rare for a team this young and its so fun to watch them grow: http://www.mindofmattman.com/2012/05/small-market-vs-big-market-who-takes.html

  11. Vrapz says:

    Even theyr young theyv been in the playoffs 4 yrs in a row…..theyr not estupid they got high basketball iq…they learnt from that 4yrs experience how to win a basketball game.theyr defence is the key ….look at parker ginobili or anybody from the spurs are hesitant to go in …

  12. Vrapz says:

    If the spurs keep theyr fast plays…they will suffer.better get back to the old spurs….play posts and somebody will cut and let the shooter spreads the floor.that way stops transitions . Okc are too fast ,young and hungry.

  13. OkcFanboy says:

    Lets go OKC!!! They definitely got this! The Spurs are getting tired and can’t keep up with the Okies! Thunder up!

    • .....justplayball !! says:

      …next time the bigs for OKC shoot this good combined we will have settled Mars…….. 11 for 11 for Ibaka…… Great game for him but…… Unduplicatable !!! If I’m wrong and he does……I will say I was wrong right here…….and OKC will be in the finals….. won’t happen though, I am much more worried about KD and Harden……

  14. pigeon21 says:

    Love the love for the Spurs! So glad for the affirmation of what I believe. No forks yet! GO SPUUUURRRRSSS!!

  15. LakersRus says:

    OKC just showed their youth and athleticism big time in this one! Their energy level was way above that of the Spurs! Having said that I still think the Spurs will win this series! But OKC is the team of the future! Even better than the Heat! My opinion! And, as you can see, I’m not a fan!

  16. Hg says:

    Hey Sekeu Smith:
    In one of your earlier threads, after game 2 and everybody was counting OKC out, I made a statement, although bold for my BBIQ, something to the extent that OKC was a very worthy opponent and capable of putting up big numbers in a hurry. Not that I expected OKC to win the series, but if they can win game three, that will give them the confidence to win game three, if not they can drag out their fishing poles and get ready for summer vacation. Well they did do as I expected win both games at home to tie the series; nevertheless I will keep my predictions of the homecourt advantage and go with SAS. not only does the fans make the players shine bright, but the refs homecourt bias is a big advantage.
    You kind of hinted to that yourself, when in the Eastern finals, the Heats, James and Wade combined for something like 40 trips to the foul line or maybe it was 40 shots at the foul line, and Wade never got to shoot a foul shot when they were in Boston in game one, and James only had five. That in itself tells me something. I don’t think it has been reduced to the likes of Professional wrestling as to the point of predetermined winners, it just boils down to the fact that the visitors has to almost spot the home team about 20 points.
    I am still sticking with home court for all the reasons and I am rooting for SAS as my favorite.

  17. Pfft says:

    What will the Spurs veterans do without a long break every four games? Stick a fork in ‘em.