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2012 NBA Playoffs: Why Oklahoma City Will Beat the Spurs En Route to the Finals

Baily Deeter@@deetersportsSenior Writer IIIMay 22, 2012

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook celebrate during OKC's Game 5 win over LA.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook celebrate during OKC's Game 5 win over LA.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

San Antonio has won 18 straight games and seemed to take down their first two opponents rather easily.

Tony Parker was an MVP candidate, and he, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Kawhi Leonard and many other Spurs have led this team to the Western Conference Finals, where they seek a fifth championship.

Only Oklahoma City and the Eastern Conference champion stands in their way.

However, while San Antonio is eying the glamorous trophy annually awarded to the NBA champion, they first need to beat Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the dangerous Thunder.

The past two NBA champions stood in the way of the Thunder, but Durant and co. shoved them out of the way with clutch play and big-time scoring. The Thunder currently have an 8-1 playoff record, and they've won four of those games by three or less (and three by 16 or more).

Westbrook and Durant dominated the Lakers and the Mavs, with Durant making three game-winning shots and Westbrook averaging 25.6 PPG for the series. Despite rolling his ankle in Game 4 (against LA), Westbrook scored 37 points and rallied OKC from down 13 in the fourth quarter.

In Game 5, with the Lakers and Thunder tied at 70, Westbrook stole a lazy pass by Ramon Sessions, and chucked up a crazy shot that somehow banked in, sparking the Thunder.

Westbrook completed the three-point play, and from then on, the Thunder dominated.

While the Spurs are a great team, they don't have the ferocious energy brought to the floor by the Thunder. Every loose ball, rebound and basket is fought for with fierce tenacity by the Thunder, and with the home crowd on their side, they can be nearly impossible to stop.

Just ask Kobe and the Lakers.

San Antonio is a good team, but they have older players. If the Thunder bring their energy and the Spurs are caught sleeping early, the game could get out of hand. Don't be surprised if the Spurs fall behind early because of lack of preparation (and weak competition).

San Antonio has won some close games, but down the stretch, I'd give Oklahoma City the edge. James Harden, Westbrook and Durant are fearless, and Durant has always seemed to make the big shot.

Again, just ask the Lakers. I also don't mind if you ask the Mavericks.

San Antonio and Oklahoma City are the two best shooting teams in the NBA, but don't be surprised if the Thunder force San Antonio to shoot outside the perimeter instead of taking close jumpers down the stretch (by wearing them out early), especially in Oklahoma City.

From my point of view, I see the Thunder as the better team. They're younger, but they aren't inexperienced. They shoot very well, play good defense, grab rebounds, hustle and make clutch shots.

I don't think the Thunder will lose a game at home with their rambunctious crowd and great clutch play. I have the Thunder sneaking away from San Antonio with a close win (much as they did in Game 4 against LA) and taking the series in six games.

And next, they'll win the Finals. 

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