Spurs vs. Clippers: 7 Players to Watch in Western Conference Finals
Oklahoma City Thunder. San Antonio Spurs.
This is the matchup every NBA fan has been waiting for in the playoffs.
Both teams have superstars, but the difference makers in the series are going to be the players who do not get all the media attention.
For the Western Conference Finals, here are the following players that you have to look out for.
Where has DeJuan Blair been this postseason?
He went from being a player who was on the floor at least 20 minutes a games to only playing a total of three minutes in the Los Angeles Clippers series.
Blair showed during the regular season that he can play well against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In their last game against each other, Blair put up 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Look for Blair to get more playing time in this playoff series and provide scoring off the bench.
Being the veteran on the Oklahoma City Thunder, Derek Fisher is going to have to provide leadership for his young teammates during the Western Conference Finals.
This is the same round the Thunder was eliminated in last year. Fisher is going to have to provide mental toughness to help the Thunder move on to the championship. He has won five NBA Championships, so he has been in this position plenty of times.
Fisher is also going to have to provide scoring off the bench. Outside of the Thunder's big three and Serge Ibaka, Fisher has been the Thunder's next leading scorer. If Fisher is able to knock down three-pointers, then it will significantly improve the Thunder's offense.
I know Manu Ginobili is a pretty big name, but he missed all three regular season games between these two teams.
The San Antonio Spurs won the regular season series, winning two of the games.
Imagine what their team will be like now with Ginobili healthy. He is equivalent to the Spurs as James Harden is to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Ibaka did a great job against the Los Angeles Lakers defending Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Against the San Antonio Spurs, Ibaka faces another tall task in Tim Duncan.
Duncan has been playing like he is five years younger. He has shown that he still has mobility and can score at least 20 points a game.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder wants to move on, then Ibaka is going to have to continue to play amazing defense.
The rise of Danny Green's play has helped the San Antonio Spurs be as good as they are this year.
Green went from hardly playing at all last year to becoming one of the Spurs most important players.
This postseason, Green has come up huge. He is the team's fourth leading scorer, averaging over 10 points a game. He has been absolutely lights out from three-point range, shooting over 45 percent from behind the arc.
While both teams' top three players are going to be going at it, Green is going to have to continue this level of play for the Spurs if they want to move on.
Daequan Cook has played very little this postseason, averaging just over six minutes a game in the Western Conference semifinals.
At one point, Cook was an important player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, starting over 20 games for them. Now that Cook is coming off the bench, he is going to have to step up and be a deadly outside scorer.
The San Antonio Spurs have a ton of depth, and the Thunder is going to need Cook to step up and match the Spurs' depth.
Kawhi Leonard is a rookie, but he has been playing like he has been in the league for years.
Leonard is a tremendous athlete who plays great defense. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he is going to have to defend Kevin Durant.
This will be Leonard's toughest test yet. He will not be able to shut down Durant. There is no one that can shut down Durant.
However, if he can at least contain him and force him into taking poor shots, then the Spurs will have a great shot at winning this series.