Thunder vs. Spurs: Biggest Factors to Oklahoma City Winning in San Antonio
The San Antonio Spurs seemed to have the edge over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Kevin Durant and company beat the Spurs twice in a row to even the Western Conference Finals 2-2. Both teams are tough and gritty in the playoffs, but one will have to be victorious and head to the Finals to face the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat.
If Oklahoma City wants to make sure they hold the Spurs down over the next few games, there's a few things that will need to be done. Here are the biggest factors that the Thunder will need to defeat the Spurs.
Oklahoma City Thunder will need to try and find a way to feel no pressure during the rest of this playoff run. They have already beaten the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, which many NBA experts did not see coming. They then continued to defeat the 2009 and 2010 NBA champion Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers. If they defeat the Spurs, who won the 2007 NBA Championship, the Thunder will find themselves facing the Celtics or the Heat.
To make the situation even more complicated, if the Thunder did face the Celtics, they would have played the last five NBA champions during their journey to the trophy. No pressure, right? The Thunder have to figure out a way to focus on their offensive skills and defensive strategies without being weighed down by the pressure to win.
If the Thunder keep up their consistent play and keep pressure on the San Antonio Spurs, they should find themselves in the next round of the playoffs in no time.
The Stars Need to Continue to Shine
Kevin Durant and Durant and Russell Westbrook are undeniably the stars on the Thunder. Both players combined accounted for over 50 percent of the Thunder's points this season, and they have no doubt been influential in success during the playoffs.
The playoffs are about big plays, last-minute shots and all-star players putting it all on the line for their team. Kevin Durant carried the Thunder in the last game against the Spurs, scoring 16 fourth-quarter points and dominating the court.
If Durant and Westbrook come up big in the upcoming games against the Spurs, then it could be safe to say that they will end up being the NBA Western Conference Champions of 2012.
Take Advantage of Spurs Turnovers
As any person with knowledge of the NBA knows, a turnover can be a game-changer in any game. In game 3, the San Antonio Spurs turned the ball over 21 times, giving the Thunder the advantage of retrieving the ball and slamming it in the back of the net.
When the Thunder recover turnovers, they've been successful at scoring. Oklahoma City needs to take advantage of every turnover they get and make the Spurs pay for throwing away the ball.
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the best passing teams in the NBA, but if they're caught playing sloppy and commit turnovers, the Thunder will need to make sure they're quick to react.
Keep the Spurs Under 100 Points
An interesting statistic during this NBA playoff run, is that the Thunder have only let an opponent score over 100 points in two of their wins. If Oklahoma City can prevent the Spurs from scoring over 100, they may be able to defeat the Spurs in games five and six.
If the Thunder keep up their defensive intensity and keep the same match-ups from game 3, they should have success in all of the games against the Spurs from here on out.
Oklahoma City's team is strong all-around, but they'll need to be on the lookout for the Spurs top scorers like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan.