NBA Playoffs

The Western Conference Championship is of interest to me and Okiegirl.

http://www.cbssports.com/nba/blog/eye-on-basketball/19160679/western-conference-finals-preview-san-antonio-spurs-vs-okc-thunder/rss

I have some additional observations about the Spurs.

1]  They are very deep.  They have twelve reliable players, even if they can only play 9 in a given game.

2]  They are flashy when Ginobili and Parker are on the floor at the same time because of the passing game. If you like no-look find the open man, or pick and roll, or give and go, or fast pass-touch pass basketball, this is where to see it.

3]  Ginobili and Duncan will not be on the floor more than 32 of 48 minutes.  Depth allows this.  The two can play as if “young” for 30 minutes, but not for 37.

4]  They do not defend as tenaciously as the Robinson-Duncan era team, or in the same way.  The team defense is good and smart, but neither great nor spectacular.

5]  Parker absolutely abused Westbrook last time these teams played, but I would not expect that to repeat.

6]  This may be the best shooting team in history, and the fast passing provides comfortable looks.

7]  This team is relaxed even when down 24 points, as they were to the Clips in game 3 of that series.  They won by double digits.  No nerves.

8]  No one on this team can stop Durant, or really slow him down, one-on-one.

Okie, what about the Thunder?

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Mark and all, I’m a big basketball fan but not much of an analyst.  I write this without having read any “expert” analyses, but here goes.  [Michi, cover your eyes.]

1]  Thunder are deep too!  After all, we have Harden, the 2012 NBA 6th Man of the Year.  “Fear the Beard” t-shirts are selling well locally.  That should be a great match-up with Ginobli.  But Collison and Mohammed also get the job done.  I think Collison in particular is underrated.

2]  Thunder aren’t particularly flashy, and I think the pick and roll might be a problem for them defensively.

3]  Hahahahahaha.  There is not a team in the NBA that can hang with the Thunder’s “young” legs.  Rest all ya want; it just means the starters are not on the floor and, subtle as the difference may be, there’s a reason the starters are starters.  Thunder starters can stay on the floor longer.

4]  Kevin Durant will be a problem for the Spurs.  I look for him to have some big games.

5]  This could be a key to the series.  But Westbrook has been on a roll.  We’ll see.

6]  As a Thunder fan, this concerns me.  Offensively, Spurs may pick them apart.  But don’t forget the defensive value of Durant’s speed and 7’5” (or whatever) wingspan.

7]  Ditto for the Thunder.  This actually has been a surprise to me, given their youth.

8]  Bingo.  See number 4.

I have to note how much I love the fact that it is two small market teams in the west finals.  The teams seem to have similar philosophies and values that I find wholesome.  I know someone who came here with the team from Seattle and still works in the Thunder organization, and reportedly the players love being in OKC and the way they are treated both by the organization and by the community.  I have seen nothing locally to indicate otherwise.  Win or lose, you never hear Thunder players blaming teammates a la Kobe.  As far as I know, it’s the same for the Spurs.  Mark, any thoughts on that?

Now for a little local color.  Since it was national news, I suspect all have heard about the shootings that marred the final win over the Lakers (although reportedly having no connection at all to the game).  There is a small plaza in front of the arena where the Thunder play.  There are concessions, bleachers, a jumbotron, etc., and hundreds all this season and in prior years have gathered for pregame festivities (been there myself when I had tickets).  For the first time, for this year’s playoffs they have showed the game in entirety on the jumbotron instead of shutting down at tipoff.  This drew thousands instead of hundreds.  If you watched the Thunder-Laker series you probably saw some cool shots of it on TV.  If not, not as cool but see this or [aarrgghh, cannot get link to work].  Hmmm, 5,000-10,000 people packed into a very small area with no controlled access and where alcohol is sold, what could possibly go wrong?  Due to the recent shootings, the City and the team immediately discontinued Thunder Alley for “public safety reasons” due to the actions of two punks.  Locals are furious.  Hopefully they will find an alternative venue.

 

Edit by Okie:   My prediction:  Spurs in 7 cause they are playing absurdly well right now.  Reserve the right to change the prediction if Thunder manage to steal one of the first two in SA.

17 Responses

  1. Looks like it’s the Celtics vs. the Heat. My heart is with the Celtics, but my head is with the Heat.

    BB

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    • BB, Rondo is like Westbrook – a PG capable of a triple double, but capable of overplaying, too, in any game. Chalmers is no match for him at his best. Heat without Bosh? Allen and Pierce are playing on fumes – their legs are bunged up.

      A healthy Pierce can play as well as anyone against James. On one wheel, you can forget it. Avery Bradley is out for Boston, and he was their best defender on the perimeter. Wade will overpower Allen at will. Puts a lot of pressure on KG and Rondo. Too much.

      Okiegirl, there is an easy comity among the Spurs, lots of smart guys, and a coach who treats his players like adults. I have read that the OKC franchise has been modeled after SA, so I am not surprised that the team attitudes are similar. I too am fascinated by the small market series, the non-showboat teams, and the clean fast play we should get in this series. Spurs in 7, unless OKC breaks through in one of the first two games, I agree.

      Should the Heat make the final and have a healthy Bosh, I still pick the Western Conference champion in 6. In both cases, depth is a huge edge for the western team, and James and Wade would have to be heroic too often and too long against players able to actually slow them down a bit. Okie and I think the Western Conference championship is the real deal.

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  2. I’m done with the NBA for the year, but will happily root against the Heat for as long as they are in it. Eh, I don’t really like the C’s either. So I’ll root for the old guys or young guns from the West in the Finals against whichever mercenary team comes out of the East.

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  3. Halftime . . . wow. If you are a basketball fan and are not watching this game, you should be. So far it’s all it was hyped to be. Ginobili is killing us. Duncan is having a great game; don’t recall seeing the Thunder miss so many shots in the paint (though have not checked stats). Who would have thought it would be the Spurs with a turnover problem?

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    • Notice how much time Duncan was on the bench? I suspect he will play only half the third quarter, but 10 minutes in the fourth. Good game, a bit sloppy by both teams playing on adrenaline, to some extent. And Durant is not going to stop.

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  4. I like the stat board at cbs.com, but yahoo has an interesting one that includes net team points while player was in the game.

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  5. Great game! Spurs’ defense won it. Good job on Durant and Westbrook. And it was a clean game. Hoping the rest of the series follows suit (except in the W column, of course).

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  6. Spurs pick and roll better tonight. Harden better tonight. KD keeping OKC close, early. Collison plays tough. Nothing will be easy. OKC has no answer for Parker right now.

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    • Now it is beginning to look like one of those Spurs clinics on how to hit the open man for three, how to hit the cutter, how to hit the back door play, how to pick and roll off the center, And only the real talent of KD, Westbrook, and Harden is giving the Thunder any chance at all in this game. Spurs bench showing its strength.

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  7. Darn it all. I missed the game due to some severe weather here last night. Sounds like OKC got thumped.

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    • In spurts I could still see the Thunder’s strengths. I think Westbrook gets too much blame when Parker gets open on the pick and roll. It looks like the bigs don’t know where they are supposed to be against the Spurs. Okie, it was a good game, and when the Spurs put on a clinic for several minutes in the third OKC made an adjustment – actually two adjustments – that evened up the contest again. I anticipate OKC will successfully defend its home court.

      Back to the pick-and-roll: SA has multiple combinations and can run 2 in the same set. Perkins is the guy who is lost against it. The Thunder played better without him against the Spurs and Ibaka can play D! Looks to me like Ibaka-Durant-Harden-Sefolosha-Westbrook is capable of beating any Spurs combo for the minutes it can be kept on the floor together, and Fisher and Collison should be the “depth”, this series. If Perkins were playing well, Pop would be playing Blair, who started in the regular season. Spurs depth dictates much here. That Blair has played zero minutes tells you how ineffective Perkins has been.

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  8. Game 5: End of 1st quarter and I thought it was a really good quarter for Thunder. Will it last??? Lots of game to go.

    Mark, your comments prove ever more prescient. But, ahem, did I not mention that Collson is underrated? He’s having an outstanding game tonight. And he’s no spring chicken either; does he want a ring more than Duncan?

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    • Durant did prove unstoppable and the Spurs depth vanished, exposing their age. So now I am a Thunder fan against whomever the East sends.

      Have a great trip.

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  9. Okiegirl, the Heat were just plain better.

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