So far the Western Conference Finals are looking like a total domination by the San Antonio Spurs. Oklahoma City are not playing as well as they are known to play. The Spurs are running the offense to its best and are hitting their shots. Not to mention the fact that every player is more focused on winning and not their stat sheet. Their high basketball IQ is astounding and allows them to play selfless basketball as well as drive the Thunder in pounding headaches.
As of right now, 10 of 13 players on the Spurs active roster have played in every single postseason game. While the Thunder have only had 6 players play every one of their postseason games. This alone shows that the Spurs know how to utilize their team well enough to have a balanced scoring attack. Where as the Thunder are top heavy and relying mainly on their dynamic duo to carry the scoring load. Thunder’s role players have not shown up in this series; Ibaka has been out due to surgery, and Collison, Perkins and Sefolosha have combined a total of 9 points in just two games.
The Thunder are getting frustrated from the Spurs’ ball movement. They are trying to out-match the Spurs teamwork with isolation basketball and it is not working. During game 2, Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was caught yelling and pointing to his head towards Kevin Durant after the Spurs just went on a 22-8 run to close the half. Westbrook claimed “it’s what teammates do,” but if that’s the case why are they arguing with each other and causing more frustration? Westbrook was in no way having a great game, it was disastrous. He was forcing up bad shots, like fade away three pointers early in the shot clock and complaining to the refs consistently throughout the game. In game 2 Westbrook was 7-24 with 15 points. So, uh, Russell, why were you yelling at KD if you can’t even hit all your shots and you are looking for every foul you can get?
The whole Thunder team needs to step up and play unselfish fundamental basketball like the Spurs. If that were to happen, then and only then would the Thunder have a chance at this series. However, the amount of skill is uncomparable. In game 1, Danny Green was 4-5 from the three point line and Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and 6 rebounds. Manu filled up the stat sheet once again while shooting 3-4 three’s and 7-12 from the field while putting up 18 points. In game 2, Danny Green was 7-10 just on 3-pointers and put up 21 points. Tim Duncan had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Tony Parker had 21 points and 5 assists. Even then, there’s no need for any one player to exceed on the court when every player is able to take smart shots and continue with impeccable passing and a strong defense.
Through the vine there has been talk about the 2012 WCF and how the Thunder were down by 2 games and came back to win four straight against the Spurs. Let me say, the 2012 Thunder are not the same as the 2014 Thunder. They do not have that key player that adds an extra offensive presence, whom before was James Harden. Not to mention they are at a loss with another big body on the court, Serge Ibaka has been out for the previous two games and there is talk that he may be back for game 3 in OKC. The Spurs have been expecting Ibaka to come back to the playoffs and knew it was only a matter of time before they played against him again.
The only guarantee is that the Spurs are aware of his possible presence back on the court and still play each game like it is game 7: with passion and determination. Maybe that is also the another impression from the first two games…the fact that the Spurs play in a different way than the Thunder. Coach Pop has taught the Spurs early on that the team must be a family and play together. Which is exactly how they have executed the past two games.
At this point, the Thunder are looking lost and frustrated and seem to be in a dead end hole. Though Ibaka more than likely will return in Game 3 which could prove problematic for San Antonio.
But if the Spurs keep playing the way they are, then this series could end in 5 games or less.