by Jamie Bailey
After 8 long months of basketball, only 4 teams remain.
Here’s my take on the Western Conference Finals: This series features a rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Finals–a series that was won by the upstart Thunder in surprising fashion; after losing the first two games, they roared back to win 4 in a row and make their first finals since moving to Oklahoma City.
Many viewers thought this would be the Spurs last hurrah but it wasn’t. The Spurs are trying to make it to their second consecutive finals. They have never done this before. During the regular season the Spurs lost the season series in 4 games. Many people expect OKC to prevail again, but I don’t.
OKC has not been playing well during the playoffs. The Grizzlies took them to 7 games. And even though they beat the Clippers in 6, they looked extremely sloppy at times.
What has to be concerning is that regular season MVP, Kevin Durant, has looked bad at times during these playoffs. He’s made mental errors, huge turnovers, and he isn’t shooting the ball like he usually does.
Russell Westbrook has shown flashes of brilliance, but also has had bad moments. He must learn when to be aggressive and when not to be. A big blow to OKC is also the loss of Serge Ibaka who will miss the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury.
The Spurs had their struggles against Dallas especially on the defensive side, but they seemingly found their groove against the Portland Trail Blazers. Kawahi Leonard is playing his best basketball of the year now and so is Manu Ginobili. The Spurs boast the deepest bench in the entire league. I expect for their bench to play huge dividends at some point in this series. A cause for concern is Tony Parker’s hamstring. He is one of the best, and they need for him to be healthy going forward.
Coaching, I think, clearly favors San Antonio. Greg Popovich is one of the best in the league and always makes great adjustments. The same can’t be said about Scott Brooks who may very well be on the hot seat at the end of this year.
Prediction: I expect for this to be a good series, but I think the loss of Ibaka looms large. While his replacements of Nick Collinson and Steven Adams won’t embarrass themselves, they lack the offensive game (perimeter shooting), and his tenacious weakside defense. I like the Spurs to win this series in 6 games. You heard it from me: Spurs in 6.by