Game 1 NBA Playoffs Prediction: Oklahoma City at San Antonio
Sunday, May 27, 2012
The Thunder will be banking on their 1-2 punch of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to KO the Spurs, who have swept both opponents on the way to the conference finals and have reeled off 18 consecutive victories behind a deep and balanced lineup that utilizes 10 players. San Antonio won two of the three regular-season meetings.
Oklahoma City Thunder : Oklahoma City swept reigning league champion Dallas before taking out Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Three-time scoring champion Durant and Westbrook have combined to average nearly 51 points in the postseason, giving the Thunder a lethal offensive combination that no team north of the Miami Heat can match. Durant has four double-doubles in the postseason while Westbrook has committed only nine turnovers in the last eight games. As good as they are, Oklahoma City's hopes may hinge on super sub James Harden, who averaged 16.8 points in the regular season and was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year. Big men Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins supply shot-blocking, rebounding and toughness, but both are limited offensively.
San Antonio Spurs : Tim Duncan has led San Antonio to four league titles since 1999, and at age 36 appears intent on adding another. He averaged 21.0 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting nearly 60 percent in the sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers. Point guard Tony Parker has had a sensational postseason, and had one of his best (season-high 42 points) and worst (4 points, 1-of-8 shooting) games against the Thunder this season. The Spurs have not faced Oklahoma City with sixth man Manu Ginobili or late-season acquisitions Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson in the lineup. San Antonio has been lighting it up from 3-point range, with Danny Green and rookie Kawhi Leonard each shooting better than 45 percent in the playoffs.
Since the start of the 2009 season, San
Antonio is 8-2 against the Thunder with an average victory margin of 9.6
2. Durant is the seventh player in league history to win three straight scoring titles and the first since Michael Jordan (1996-98).
3. Since Diaw and Jackson both joined the Spurs, they are 28-2. San Antonio has not lost since April 11.
NBA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Spurs 106, Thunder 102
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