It's improbable, but it just might happen: the Spurs are just two victories away from reaching the NBA Finals, and they could very well do it without losing a single game in the postseason.
San Antonio, winners of 20 consecutive contests, once again denied the Thunder on Tuesday night with a 120-111 Game 2 victory in the Western Conference finals, proving that youth doesn't necessarily trump veteran talent, even in the long and exhausting postseason.
The Spurs, in fact, have proven that nothing can defeat a deep roster of veteran talent—not youth, not recent first-round draft picks, not a tandem of two of the top developing stars the game has to offer. The Spurs may be old, but they are led by a core group of players who know exactly what it takes to win and the longest-tenured coach in the NBA, who's been able to lead them to the promised land four times before.
Before this series began, there seemed to be a chance that the Thunder could do what no team has been able to do in the 2012 postseason. If anyone was going to beat the Spurs, it was the lethal combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Except against the Spurs, the Durant-Westbrook tandem have tried everything and still can't manage to find a way to win.
The Thunder were the only team that even came close to matching the Spurs' dominance this postseason (before this series). No one could find a way to stop OKC, not the defending NBA champion Mavericks or the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers.
When Durant and Westbrook could put up the points, it seemed like the Thunder were unbeatable. And then, of course, Durant and Westbrook met the Spurs.
In Game 2 on Tuesday, Durant shot 10-of-17 from the field for 31 points, five rebounds and five assists. Westbrook added 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Still, no win. The Spurs completely neutralized Kendrick Perkins—perhaps the largest contributing factor to the Lakers' futility one round ago—and held him to three points on just five shots and five rebounds.
In Game 1 on Sunday night, Durant shot 8-for-19 from the field for 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Westbrook had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. No slouch of a line by any means, and yet it was the same story: Westbrook took far too many shots, Perkins was shut down, Durant couldn't play defense all by himself and nobody on the Thunder had any answers for Tony Parker.
The X-factors that led the Thunder to victory in the first two rounds of the playoffs are no longer working, and the Thunder are quickly realizing that the Spurs have far too many weapons to contend with, particularly when those weapons are all playing even better than they did five or six years ago.
The Spurs are just too deep and too talented to lose, and they know too much about what it takes to win. Nothing and no one are getting in their way of a speedy trip to the Finals—not even the young, hot-shooting Thunder.
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