AT&T CENTER – With the 104-82 victory sending the Portland Trail Blazers on their summer vacation Wednesday evening, the San Antonio Spurs advanced to their third consecutive Western Conference Finals.
At the moment, the Oklahoma City Thunder currently hold a 3-2 series lead over the Los Angeles Clippers, as the series will shift to Los Angeles for game six on Thursday.
The Spurs will now have to sit back and wait to see who their next opponent will be. Two years ago in their 2012 playoff run, the Spurs swept the Clippers in the second round, and lost to the Thunder in six games of the Conference Finals.
This Spurs team is a new group from that squad two years ago, and by the responses of their players, they will be ready for whoever comes out on top between the Clippers and Thunder.
“Whoever is going to show up, is going to show up,” said Spurs forward Tim Duncan after the Spurs’ victory over the Blazers.
“It does matter,” said Danny Green (of who wins between the Clippers and Thunder), “but either way, we still have to stick to our game plan.”
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” said Boris Diaw of the potential matchup. “It’s going to be a great team, a great battle. It’s going to be close.”
“Whoever is the best team,” said Kawhi Leonard lastly, “I want to play them.”
Two years ago, the Spurs had Gary Neal and Stephen Jackson as part of their playoff rotation. Fast-forward to today, and they’ve seen development in Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, and Boris Diaw over the last two years, and they’ve added Marco Belinelli this past season, as he too has become a key part of the playoff rotation.
As the Spurs have changed, so have the Thunder and Clippers over the last two seasons. Whether game one of the Conference Finals kicks off Monday vs. the Thunder, or Wednesday against the Thunder or Clippers, referring back to what Diaw said, “It’s going to be a great battle.”
Two opponents that will know each other well, however, a totally new chess match with old, developed, and new pieces. Welcome to the Western Conference Finals.