By Josh Kramer
Continue to doubt the Spurs. I know that I have. 19 victories in a row is no fluke. Not to mention that nine of them have occurred during playoff basketball. Through three quarters on Sunday night, it looked as if the Thunder were on their way to making a major statement, and negating San Antonio’s home-court advantage. Instead, San Antonio came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth court, denying OKC a major opportunity. Sunday was as prime example of why no game is every over until the final horn sounds. Now history is against the Thunder who lost in the conference finals last year as well.
First of all, winners of Game 1 in the conference finals have gone on to win the series 80% of the time. Secondly, San Antonio became the fourth team in NBA history to start the playoffs with nine straight victories. All of the previous three advanced to the NBA finals with two taking home the championship. Thirdly, the Thunder outplayed the Spurs for well over three/fourths of the game and still lost. Scott Brooks has to be scratching his head still as to what happened late Sunday night.
Manu Ginobli was the difference maker as he has been for the better part of a decade now. How many players can come off the bench and influence a playoff basketball game the way he can? Not many, though James Harden, OKC’s bench star, can really play. Also, OKC has to find a way to get some point production out of their bigs. The Spurs cleaned up in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 50 to 26.
Despite all of my rambling, I still like the Thunder to take this series in the end. There is something about this young and exciting group out of OKC that has really caught my eye. The “Big Three” of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden will not be denied two years in a row. They are far too good and determined to let that happen. Look for an inspired effort tonight from Russell Westbrook after a less than stellar Game 1 performance. The majority of the country wants a Thunder versus Heat finals matchup. With a victory tonight, the Thunder will really increase the likelihood of this dream matchup coming to fruition. Continue reading