NBA Playoffs 2012: San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder Will Win Title
No Eastern Conference team has a chance against the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder in a seven-game series.
The Western Conference finalists easily dispatched with their opponents in the second round. The Spurs swept the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Thunder took just five games to eliminate the Los Angeles Lakers.
Both teams are relentless with their offensive attack and break down opponents with ease.
The Spurs rank first among teams this postseason with 102.5 points per game. The Thunder are second at 100 points a night. San Antonio and Oklahoma City also rank first and second, respectively, in field goal percentage.
In contrast, the top-four defensive teams left in the playoffs are the four remaining contenders in the Eastern Conference. While some say defense wins championships, it’s actually balance that puts banners in the rafters.
The Spurs and Thunder get it done at both ends of the floor. Both teams are scoring significantly more points than they are giving up. The teams from the East, however, tend to struggle offensively.
The Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers both lack a proven scorer who can close out games. The Boston Celtics' offensive struggles have been well-publicized as the team finished 26th in points per game during the regular season.
Finally, the Miami Heat had the required offensive firepower before Chris Bosh was lost for the remainder of the playoffs. After Bosh went out in Game One against the Pacers, the Heat put up just 75 points in each of the next two games.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were able to carry the scoring load against the floundering Pacers in the next two games, but this task will be significantly more difficult against teams as disciplined as San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
The Thunder and Spurs have excelled at exploiting their opponents' flaws, and all four of their possible Finals opponents have glaring problems on offense. In addition, Gregg Popovich and Scott Brooks have each won the NBA's Coach of the Year award in the past three seasons and are two of the best basketball minds in the league today.
Popovich's game-plan squeezed the Clippers' Chris Paul into tight spaces and limited his effectiveness, especially in the fourth quarter. Paul averaged just 12.8 points during the series, compared to 20.4 in the opening round against Memphis Grizzlies. His turnovers also rose from 3.6. to 4.5.
The Thunder let the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant get his points, but limited Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol during the series. In all five games of the series, at least one of the seven-footers finished with negative plus/minus numbers.
Brooks was also able to expose how bad the Lakers' bench really is and always had the right lineup in the game to take advantage of the sub-par second unit.
The Spurs and the Thunder both have excellent coaches, well-rounded starting lineups and deep benches. The same cannot be said about any of the teams in the East, and the NBA’s champion will be decided in the series between San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
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