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I’ve watched the first three games of this series. The more I study the players, the coaching, and the trends of the game, I wish these two teams would play a best-of-15 series for the NBA championship. No need to even bring the winner of Boston/Miami into the fold.
But, this is reality… and reality tells us that the western champions must play the eastern champions. So let me cut straight to the chase. The Spurs are by far the most experienced team in the NBA, and certainly the most experienced of the four teams remaining. The Thunder are the youngest and most inexperienced team remaining. Yet, Oklahoma City has reached the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season. Tough to imagine this team not winning an NBA championship or two very soon.
However, it is not going to happen in 2012. The Thunder looked unbeatable in game 3, ending the Spurs’ run of 50 consecutive unbeaten days, but we all know the Spurs are going to respond better in game 4. I also believe the Spurs offensive execution and defensive mindset will prove to be too much to handle for Scott Brooks’ young squad.
How the Thunder can win game 4:
Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher and Serge Ibaka must continue to contribute. Perkins played excellent defense in game 3, as did Sefolosha and Ibaka. All three are know more for a defensive presence. Fisher is Fisher… he is a 38-year-old veteran and knows how to compete at a high level in the playoffs. Solid pickup by Thunder General Manager Sam Presti.
How the Spurs can take a 3-1 advantage:
Tim Duncan needs to score more than 11 points and grab 2 rebounds. Not the best outing for the future Hall of Famer. Manu Ginobili has to attack the basket and finish or dish the ball out for his teammates to get open looks. Stephen Jackson sure ought to keep shooting the way he did in game 3 - that could prove to be a nice weapon moving forward for Gregg Popovich. Finally, Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter (both solid contributors off the bench), have to do more than combine for one point and six rebounds.
Final thoughts: hate to say it because I enjoy watching the Thunder, but it simply isn’t their time. I can see this series going to six or seven games, but it will only be another learning experience for a young, developing team. Spurs will be moving on to the NBA Finals yet again.