The San Antonio Spurs swept the Utah Jazz, swept the Los Angeles Clippers, won 18-games in a row, and are looking like the only team that can beat them, is themselves.
And it is because of this dominant and impressive showing during the playoffs that many feel San Antonio is a juggernaut and are close to unbeatable. They have an inside game, perimeter game, reliable perimeter shooters, can play an up-tempo game and can play in the half-court when needed.
In an interview with French-site Sports.fr, Boris Diaw says the Spurs are not unbeatable as many feel. And as he and the team are about to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Diaw says the team has to play even harder if they want a chance at winning the series.
It’s true, we have played well at the moment, but we are not unbeatable either. Against Oklahoma City, it will be up to us to play as hard as possible, to give everything not to lose. They too are almost unbeatable in the playoffs because they have only lost one game (against the Los Angeles Lakers). They have played at a high level since the beginning of the season. That is the strength of San Antonio today is having both a good defense and, as soon as one gets the ball, to go as soon as possible in attack and score. There are really two aspects to this team. It has changed a bit since two years. Previously, the Spurs were trying to slow down the tempo. Now, the ball moves, the game is more oriented to the attack.
The Spurs-Thunder series will be an exciting series and many feel this will determine the eventual NBA champion but the Spurs will not have an easy time as they did versus the Jazz and Clippers. And Diaw knows this and says the Spurs are not the favorites in the series and the Spurs must have a healthy respect for OKC.
OKC also had a very good season and we passed by them at the last moment. They are the favorites. We must really respect all teams. We try to stay humble in victory. One suspects it has been easy because we won both series 4-0, but every game is different. We must approach this new series with the most seriousness as possible because the Thunder are made of sterner stuff. We’ll have to be careful at the first match, at home. That may be the most important game of the playoffs. We are all very motivated because we know we can go far if we play well.
And speaking of having a healthy respect for the Thunder, Diaw points out OKC’s “Big 3″ will be a huge task to bear for the Spurs but so will their other role players such as James Harden.
It is true that their “Big 3″ we have to watch closely but there’s also James Harden, who made a great season, and Thabo Sefolosha, our Swiss friend, who brings a lot. Their defense is also very good for some time, with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, who was candidate for best defender of the year. This team is formidable.
Having respect for the Thunder is the right mind set the Spurs must take into the series which kicks off this Sunday. The Thunder are not the Jazz or Clippers. This is a team that is hungry, young, and have experience playing deep in the playoffs and eliminated the Lakers and Mavericks, two top teams in the West.
Oklahoma is not a team San Antonio will sweep. Each game will be a fight but if Diaw and the rest of the team simply do what they have been doing in the playoffs so far, the Spurs could punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.