The NBA postseason has been whittled down to just four teams. The Eastern Conference finals will feature the Indiana Pacers versus the Miami Heat. While out West, the San Antonio Spurs will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In the Western Conference finals, the first game will be played in the best of seven series on Monday May 19 in San Antonio, with the Spurs holding the home court advantage thanks to having the best regular season record in the league this season.
During the regular season, the Thunder swept all four games versus the Spurs. However, that can be deceiving, just ask the Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn was 4-0 against the Miami Heat this past regular season, according to data from Bovada and sportsbook.com, but lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals 4-1.
San Antonio beat the Portland Trail Blazers in 5 games in the second round, while eliminating the Dallas Mavericks in 7 games in round one to reach the conference finals.
According to data taken from topbet and betonline, Oklahoma City defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in 6 games in round two and the Memphis Grizzlies in 7 games in round one to reach this point.
The biggest matchups in this series will by Tony Parker the Spurs point guard versus Russell Westbrook the Thunder point guard, as well as Kawhi Leonard the Spurs shooting forward against Kevin Durant the Thunder’s shooting forward.
San Antonio makes very few mistakes in a game and capitalizes on the ones its opponents make. Look for the Spurs to isolate Durant and Westbrook, while attacking the role players for the Thunder who at times can be inconsistent.
The Spurs are never out of a game. San Antonio can rally behind its talented mix of veterans and young blood. With Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Parker having loads of experience, it helps the other younger players like Kawhi Leonard and Thiago Splitter.
After such a difficult offseason following a heartbreaking NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat, look for the Spurs to do whatever it takes to return to the finals.
Durant and Westbrook are two of the five best players in basketball worldwide. There is no one on San Antonio that can match either one of them individually.
Leonard can stay with one or the other on defense, but not for an entire game. San Antonio has had its struggles with teams that have elite athleticism and the Thunder are all that.
This matchup will favor the Thunder, but the experience and thoughts of their 2012 playoff collapse against Oklahoma City will help the Spurs.
The Spurs have played in 10 of the past 20 Western Conference finals with this appearance and are 5-4.
Pick: Thunder 4-2