The preamble to this is that I can’t remember the last time I’ve watched a Spurs game from start to finish. Most basketball watching folks say that the Spurs are ancient and boring to watch. The fact of the matter is this team is compiled of throwaways that play great team basketball! They have no stars outside of Duncan and Parker; that’s precisely why the Thunder should be nervous.
The Spurs have always played 2nd fiddle in the West. I knew they’d sweep Utah, but I honestly expected the Clippers to give them more problems. I thought that series would down to a game 7. But now looking at an perfect streak in the playoffs, the Spurs are eye to eye with the team who could potentially be the next dominate squad in the West.
The Spurs don’t have an answer for Kevin Durant. No team does. But the match up to watch will be Tim Duncan vs. Thunder’s front guys. The last time these 2 teams met, the Thunder’s big guys combined for 12 points, 13 rebounds, and shot 5/13. And they lost. At home.
Those guys from Texas will get on the boards as skillfully as they will protect the perimeter. They aren’t flashy and don’t play with tons of pizzazz like Durant, Westbrook and company. Notably they’re a very unselfish bunch though, averaging a league-high 24 assists per game. I’m sure Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are 2 of the top 10 passers on the post 2000 era. We know how the Thunder feel about passing.
The Thunder have 6th man of the year James Harden as their X factor. And the Spurs have Matt Bonner and Gary Neal. You probably have to Google both guys if you don’t watch Spurs games. But you’ll certainly know them after this series. They’re part of the reason why the Spurs have been such a great 3 pt shooting team throughout the year. Bonner is a 42% 3 pt. shooter yet he gets overlooked because he’s not a volume shooter, like Steve Novak or Ray Allen. Gary Neal is averaging 10 ppg in the playoffs and shooting 50% from behind the arc for the regular season. Don’t look for these guys to lob recklessly from downtown. But you can bet that when the Spurs do go to either 1 of them, it’ll be an uncontested 3.
It’ll be exciting to see how Parker and Westbrook battle it out. These are 2 point guards who are fast off the dribble and have a wide range of proficiency all around the court. Parker clearly has the edge as he has better shot selection. He takes roughly 16 shots per game, compared to Westbrook’s 20. Westbrook definitely got lucky often in the Dallas and LA series. The other thing is Parker also has an opportunity to attack inside more since Westbrook is a horrible defender.
I’ve lobbied that this year is the Thunder’s year. I think they’re better than whichever team comes out of the East. They have all the right pieces to win a ‘ship right now, just as Dallas did last year. The Spurs have an opportunity to solidify their place right next to the Lakers as a dynasty. So what will it come down to? 1 word – hunger.