NBA Playoff Schedule 2012: Preview and Start Time of Thunder vs. Spurs Game 2

Ryan GerbosiCorrespondent IIMay 28, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 27:  Tim Duncan #21 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs react as Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on in the fourth quarter in Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 27, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs willed and clawed their way back in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday night.

The disappointing loss for Oklahoma City was only their second of the playoffs and came after the Thunder held a nine-point lead after three quarters.

Game 2 is set for Tuesday night in San Antonio, and expect a game just as hard-fought as the one we saw in the opener.

Oklahoma City will need to see an improvement in play from point guard Russell Westbrook if they want any chance at evening the series. Westbrook had his second-worst shooting performance of the playoffs, making only seven shots on 21 attempts. 

In both postseason losses, Westbrook has struggled to shoot accurately. The guard recorded a .359 shooting percentage combined in the losses, significantly lower than his playoff average of .457.

After Oklahoma City's loss to the Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-finals, Westbrook came back in Game 4 with a strong performance, scoring 37 points and shooting .577 from the field. 

Westbrook's success from the floor helps ignite the entire Thunder roster. If Westbrook cannot get going offensively, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks may have to consider letting veteran guard Derek Fisher run the offense for a larger percentage of the game until Westbrook can find his groove. 

On the other side, San Antonio will look to continue to play a physical game and wear down the Thunder. 

Spurs coach Greg Popovich needed his team to bump bodies and drive to the basket in Game 1 to come back against the Thunder, and they did just that. Guard Manu Ginobili played his best game of the Season in Game 1, scoring 26 points while taking over the game single-handedly in the fourth quarter.

Ginobili missed significant time this season with a variety of injuries, but he seems to be hitting his stride at just the right time. His performance against Oklahoma City was a testament to the Spurs' ability to find the hot hand and do what it takes to win. 

While Ginobili was the star in the opener, he may not be the go-to guy in Game 2. Point guard Tony Parker has his hands full with Westbrook on defense, but expect him to take advantage of a young guard possibly trying to compensate for his poor Game 1 performance. If Parker is able to rattle Westbrook, he could set himself up for a huge night.

The game will be hard-fought and close. In Game 1, the Spurs were all over Kevin Durant and the rest of the Thunder in the fourth, playing a physical brand of basketball that will become the norm in this series.

How OKC responds to San Antonio's physicality will ultimately decide this series. If big guys like Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins can step up in the paint defensively, it will go a long way toward keeping the series close. Until they do, the Spurs will continue winning without looking back. 

Prediction: San Antonio wins 107-105

Game 2: May 29, 9 p.m. EDT @SAS (TV: TNT)