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.
Many have proclaimed Roger Federer the “GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)” in regards to Men’s professional tennis. When looking at the former number one’s numbers, it would be hard to argue this statement. Not only does Federer have the most Grand Slam titles at 16, but he also is now tied for the most Grand Slam victories at 233. The Swiss star has a winning percentage of nearly 87% at Grand Slam events. Plus, his streak of 23 consecutive semifinals appearances and his still active 31 consecutive quarterfinals appearances at Grand Slam events will never be broken. Despite all of this, I only give Federer a snow balls chance at bringing home the title at Roland Garros. Djokovic is going for the “Djoker Slam,” while Nadal is looking to pass up Bjorn Borg in terms of clay court immortality.
Bonds is back?
Well not quite yet. From the sounds of things, the all time home run king would like to return and help the San Francisco Giants in some capacity. Despite his questionable past, not too many guys know more about hitting than Barry Bonds. Also, look at the success Mark McGwire is currently seeing as the hitting coach in St. Louis. Without the “Machine,” St. Louis has the number one ranked offense in the National League. The Giants are currently a middle of the road offensive unit. Bonds could only help the cause as San Francisco looks to catch LA.
The 2012 Stanley Cup Finals feature a matchup that nobody saw coming. If people claim that they envisioned this matchup, they should enter the lottery immediately. A six seed versus an eight seed. Go figure. Though television would have loved to see the Rangers bounce the Devils to provide a New York/LA showdown, New Jersey is playing great hockey. Can the ageless Brodeur shut the door on his magical career with a fourth Stanley Cup? Don’t count on it. Los Angeles is that good.
Just some “Food for Thought.”
Let me hear your thoughts though. Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.