Quantcast 2012 NBA Conference Finals: NBA Playoffs - Thunder vs Spurs


Conference finals set; in the West it's a case of Old versus New



Tim Duncan has been here for all four. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have been here for three. Gregg Popovich has an accumulated record of 847-399. For the folks keeping count, that’s a winning percentage of 68%. Since Popovich’s hire as a head coach – during the 1996-1997 season- the Spurs franchise have won its only four NBA championships in a 15-year span. Duncan here for all four; Parker, Ginobili here for three.

If only the truth could be the same for San Antonio’s Western Conference foe, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tim’s rookie year, 1997, Kevin Durant was nine, Russell Westbrook was nine, and James Harden was eight. Thunder’s coach, Scott Brooks, was still on an NBA team – the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Is it relevant to see how people can make the comparisons in with the new out with the old? There’s only one problem with that: The old is a rejuvenated bunch that is putting together one of the best playoff performances, well, ever. As pointed out by Bill Simmons in one of his Grantland.com pieces, the Spurs have won their first eight playoff games, six by double-digit; with one being by 25 points or higher. This compared to the ‘ 86 Celtics, ’87 Lakers, and the ’96 Bulls, who all won 11 out of 12 before their NBA final appearances.

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The Thunder, on the other hand, have went through Dallas and Los Angeles to get here. In other words – including San Antonio – they have played 10 of the last 13 NBA champions. Two down, one more to go….

This series comes down to discipline and a game of “who’s who”. If the Spurs control the pace, hit a few three-pointers, its ballgame. If it wasn’t evident against the Clippers, San Antonio is immune to pressure or at least thus far into the playoffs. If you give Durant and Westbrook the space to maneuver, then we just get a lash-out of beautiful craziness.

It took a few years for the Thunder to knock off the Lakers, and now they face a Spurs team that they have lost 10 of the 14 regular season games they have played in Oklahoma City jerseys. Also, in the 16 playoff games these two teams have played, the Spurs hold a respectable 11-5 series lead.

Pressure is building, as Durant, in Wednesday press conferences, got frustrated with the constant questions on how they will defend San Antonio, instead of what Oklahoma City’s game plan is of their own. And, to get the pot boiling a little, Tony Parker has made it evident that he will “go after” Russell Westbrook. It was their February 4th match up where Parker went for 42 compared to Westbrook’s 18 in a 107-96 San Antonio victory.

Flashy versus Not-so-flashy. Championship rings versus High School McDonald All-Americans. The Spurs bolster one of the best team-oriented teams you will see, definitely in this generation. They will beat you from the 3-point line to the block. They can suffocate you on defense or they can run with you. The Thunder are one of the most exciting basketball teams I’ve ever watched. Filled with young talent. Not only young talent, but mature talent. They have the potential to build a dynasty just as good as the Spurs, or, if they’re lucky, better.

I love both of these teams, I really do. I have never been this excited for a basketball series. To me, it comes down to this is the best Spurs team that has been established. They won’t let this championship season slip through their fingers. Battling back and forth on five or six, I have decided to settle on six. I believe the Spurs will win the series in six games. It’s only a matter of time though that this Thunder team will be back to this same spot, replacing the Old with the New.



By: Jacob Anstey
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer

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