WCF: A look back at the season
The 1st time these two teams met was January 8th when the Thunder won by 12. That was a very different spurs team though. The starting lineup was Parker, Neal, Jefferson, Duncan, and Blair, with no Ginobili off the bench.
The 2nd time was February 4th. Still before the All-Star break, same situation, no ginobili, and weird Spurs starting lineup. To OKC's credit they didn't have Sefolosha, and it took 42 from Parker, but the Spurs won by 11.
And the 3rd and final time these two teams played during the regular season was March 16th. No Ginobili, Dejuan Blair starting, no Jackson or Diaw. The Spurs won again by 9.
The Spurs are 33-3 in their last 36 games (one of the games they lost was to the Jazz in which Pop benched the big 3).
The Thunder are 23-10 in their last 36.
The Spurs are a very different team now with uncanny depth. The Spurs have yet to play the Thunder with their full team and current lineup. They are actually undefeated when they play with their full current roster and have won every game, quite ridiculously including playoff's, by an average of 18.1
The Thunder have some tough, smart inside defenders who can block shots and play physical. If they can slow down Tim Duncan and clog up the paint, then they turn the Spurs into a perimeter-oriented jump shooting team. Then you have Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Cook, Sefolosha, and Fisher vs. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Stephen Jackson, and Gary Neal. I like the Thunder's chances better then.
I think the Spurs have a better bench 6-12, but the Thunder's bench matches up well. The Spurs can go 10 deep, but if both teams narrow their rotations to 8 guys I will put Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Perkins, Collison, Sefolosha, and Fisher with anybody. Then they still have Cook to play spot minutes as a three point shooter. Fish is old and slow, but he still has 3 point potential. Gary Neal is younger but isn't the true speedster who gives Fisher trouble. If Fisher can be a positive force for the Thunder instead of a defensive liability then the could be the 4th scorer option and backup ball handler that the Thunder need to win the series. The Thunder need that fifth guy who can give them 7 or 8 points a game. If Fisher can give them that, plus ball handling then he can stay on the floor. Fisher would have a hard time staying in front of TP, but maybe not as much with Gary Neal -- who is more of a shooter than a speedy, slashing point guard.
The Spurs have homecourt advantage and need to go up 2-0 going back to OKC. The Thunder need to split the first two games in San Antonio. With a potential game 7 in San Antonio the Thunder need to be 1-1 going back to Oklahoma City with a chance to win it in 6 games (on their own home court) if they can win their home games.
The Spurs are deep, but the Thunder matches up well with the Spurs' bench. The Spurs have a nice Big Three, but so do the Thunder -- and the Thunder's is younger and more athletic. I think that whoever wins the inside game will win the series. Vintage Duncan needs to show up for the Spurs to win. However, if this series turns into Serge Ibaka's coming out party then the Thunder will win.
Those are pretty good points but there isn't a single fact in there that leads me to believe the Thunder have a shot. I could see them sneaking in a win at OKC but while the Thunder are young and athletic the Spurs are experienced and confident. I just don't see THAT big of a difference in talent especially given the way the Spurs play during playoff time. To me it comes down to coaching and Popovich is just far beyond Scott Brooks on both sides of the ball. The Thunder have very good big's but theyre going to have to go very small at times because of the perimeter shooting of Diaw and Bonner which will leave room for a lot of give and go's, back door screens, and offensive rebounds by the Spurs. I got the Spurs in 5.
The Thunder could "go small" with Ibaka at the 5 and Durant at the 4. Both guys are tall, athletic, and freakishly long.
Ibaka looks to be at least 6'10 as does Durant. Diaw ia about 6'8 and Matt Bonner is 6'9. While both of those guys are perimeter-
oriented, they really aren't that much quicker than Nick Collison. Plus, Collison is tougher, a better rebounder, and can still shoot from outside.
I think Blair would give OKC problems. Blair is a scoring threat inside and can also rebound. Then the Thunder will have to stop two inside guys, not just one.
They don't need Blair, he's probably not gonna play. They already have Splitter and Duncan but the Thunder have Ibaka and Perkins so unless youre implying that blair can guard Durant then you're kind of missing the point.