Previewing the conference finals: Parker in the spotlight

The Western Conference Finals are set. The San Antonio Spurs will tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night in what should be a very exciting series. The Spurs won the regular season series with the Thunder 2-1 but you can throw the regular season out the window when you get to the playoffs.

The Spurs will have to play their best basketball of the season if they want to get past the Thunder. It’s undeniable that San Antonio has been playing outstanding, and they honestly look like the best team in the NBA right now, but you can’t ignore the fact that their level of competition has been subpar. The Spurs matched up very well against the Jazz and Clippers, and took care of them with ease. The Thunder won’t go down so easily.

For the Spurs to succeed in this series, a lot rests on the shoulders of Tony Parker. Parker had a tough task against the Clippers, matching up with Chris Paul. He had his ups and downs but he has to play at his best level against OKC.

In the Spurs 2 wins this season against the Thunder, Parker scored 42 and 25 points and dropped 9 and 7 assists. In the loss, Parker had just 4 points on 1-8 shooting and 7 assists. He was incredible in the Spurs’ 107-96 win back in February and if he plays like that, the Spurs are going to be almost unstoppable.

Parker will also have the tough task of locking down the Thunder’s dynamic young point guard Russell Westbrook. This will be a matchup of two very high-scoring point guards and it will come down to youth vs. experience. I like Parker’s veteran leadership in this matchup but if you’ve watched Westbrook play, you know what he’s capable of. For more of an in-depth look at the Parker-Westbrook matchup, check out Project Spurs’ Trevor Zickgraf’s article.

I’m looking forward to watching this matchup develop throughout the series. The Spurs have shown in their first two playoff series that their experience is key to their success. If Tony Parker can step up and show he’s the best point guard in this matchup, I like the Spurs’ chances.

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