10.) Oklahoma City Thunder raucous home crowdThe Oklahoma City Thunder upon moving to Oklahoma has had a great fan base, one of the best in the NBA currently. The college style crowd provides a huge advantage to the Thunder with players like Westbrook feeding the crowd and feeding off the crowd. Measurements of over a hundred decibels have been recorded in the stadium, which can lead to hearing loss if exposed to for an extended period of time. When the Spurs come back to Oklahoma for games 3 and 4 of the series, the OKC crowd will not disappoint. Oklahoma has only given up 7 games to losses at home in Chesapeake Energy Arena this whole season and has only given up one game at home in the playoffs to the potent Los Angeles Lakers. This theme will carry throughout the playoffs for Thunder because with their home crowd surrounding them Harden, Westbrook, and Durant seem to have super powers and become unstoppable. 9.) Mother Nature will take its toll on the aging San Antonio Spurs As it gets deeper into the playoffs fatigue and Mother Nature begin to take their course. Regardless of how well the Spurs say they feel it cannot change the fact that they are aging and will not be able to keep up with the young legs of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, all young and filled with energy. The Spurs have gotten by so far but as they get deeper into the playoffs this major detail will be exposed and provide a decisive advantage to the Thunder late in games and the series.
8.) SuperstitionsThis just would not be a top ten without an outlandish historical fact to back up the reasoning of why the Oklahoma City Thunder will defeat the San Antonio Spurs. Currently there are only 11 teams who have swept the first two rounds of the NBA play-offs and of these 11; six have gone on to win the NBA titles. In recent history though the last two teams to sweep the first two series have gone on to lose in the Conference Finals. This being said as we all know good and bad things always happen in three’s so it looks like the Spurs get the bad end of this superstition and the Oklahoma City Thunder receive the go ahead to the NBA Finals in what is shaping up to be a history making season for not only the young Oklahoma City Thunder franchise, but also defining of legends for James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant.
7.) Sixth Man James Harden = Series X-factorSixth Man of the Year James Harden will be the X-factor in this series. Harden will effectively offset the advantage in depth the San Antonio Spurs most certainly have over the Thunder. The Spurs have the ability to run away with games when they have their second line in, but with James Harden coming off the bench for Oklahoma, with the ability to control the ball as he has proven all season, this will maintain the Thunders high level of play even as Durant and Westbrook take breathers making difficult for the Spurs to find relief from OKC’s relentless offensive attack.
6.) Young Oklahoma City Thunder squad battle tested and provenThe Oklahoma City Thunder have already knocked off defending champs the Dallas Mavericks and more recently Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in this post season, proving they are a legitimate front runner in the NBA. OKC has proven they are battle tested and mature enough to beat the best. The Spurs on the other hand have only beaten the Utah Jazz and an ailing Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers so far easily sweeping both series. The invaluable experience the Oklahoma City Thunder have gained this post season combined with their talent will ultimately give them an upper hand on San Antonio, as San Antonio will see their first formidable opponent in quite some time.
5.) Westbrook and Harden’s newly reformed ball control
The Oklahoma Thunder in the regular season had a big problem with ball control with a league worst 16 turnovers per game. In the post season however, ball handling has become a strength for the Thunder, holding the number one position this post season amongst teams still in contention with the least amount of turnovers (96), averaging only 10.7 turnovers per game. Oklahoma being led by the newly reformed ball control of Westbrook and Harden will become a tedious challenge for the Spurs, as the Thunders young legs will wear down the aging Spurs with a relentless scoring attack, remembering the Thunder can score from anywhere when they have the ball. Including the fact that throughout the entire Lakers series Westbrook in 178 minutes of playing only turned the ball over an entirety of 4 times.
4.) Kevin Durant not just elite scorer, also elite defenderKevin Durant will be too much for the San Antonio Spurs to handle, after winning his 3rd straight NBA scoring title, he is averaging 26 points per game this post season second to only LeBron James of the Miami Heat, among players still in the hunt for an NBA title. Furthermore, not only can Durant score throughout a game, he can close out games late in the fourth quarter defensively. Durant late in game shut down Kobe in the final 4 minutes of the game forcing five missed shots from the super star holding him to just two points in the final minutes. Not a small task for anyone to beat the Lakers on the offensive and Defensive side of the court, but Durant with smooth confidence makes it look easy, as he will do to the Spurs.
3.) Oklahoma up to the task of defending newly rejuvenated Tim DuncanTim Duncan has played great this post season, which no one can deny, arguably he is playing the best basketball he has ever played in his career. The Oklahoma City Thunder have an answer to limiting Duncan down low in the paint though. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins will be given the task of shutting down Duncan, which according to history they have already done pretty well. This season in three meeting with the Spurs Ibaka and Perkins held Duncan to just 35% shooting and only 13.3 Points, where on average in the regular season he averaged 60% shooting and 21 points per game. If history holds true here Duncan will have a long night and the Thunder will take advantage of this to put more pressure on the Spurs perimeter shooters.
2.) Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker matchup pivotal to series A key matchup for this series will be between Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and San Antonio’s Tony Parker. An aging Tony Parker will have his hands full with a young feisty Westbrook, who not only can push the pace of a game offensively, scoring at will, but also plays a solid defensive game. One of Westbrook’s strengths is playing the pick-and-roll extremely well, which San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Tim Duncan rely on so heavily. Westbrook holds the ball handler to just 41% shooting off the pick-and-roll, which will slow down the spurs powerful attack off the pick greatly, shutting down a large part of their offense, putting the Thunder in perfect position to steal the series.
1.) Durant, Durant, Durant!! Always cool under pressure, ready to take the big shot and sink it!! This could be reasons one through ten; no one has proven they can hit the big shot at the end of a game better then Kevin Durant this post season. If you don’t believe me you can just ask Dirk Nowitzki (last year’s finals MVP) how good Durant has been or perhaps if Dirk’s answer doesn’t satisfy, you can also ask Kobe Bryant (5 time NBA Champion) how good Durant is when the game is on the line. When it comes down to the final seconds in a game Durant is the guy you want, if you want to win! When it comes down to it both these teams are very evenly matched, these games will come down to the final seconds of nail biting action and when they do Kevin Durant will be there to remain cool under pressure like always hitting the big shot putting the Oklahoma City Thunder over the San Antonio Spurs.
|OKC Thunder Tickets – 2012 NBA Playoffs||Date||Venue||Avg Price|
|NBA Playoffs Conference Finals: Spurs at Thunder – HG 1||5/31/2012||Chesapeake Energy Arena||$541.31|
|NBA Playoffs Conference Finals: Spurs at Thunder – HG 2||6/2/2012||Chesapeake Energy Arena||$642.58|
|NBA Playoffs Conference Finals: Spurs at Thunder – HG 3 (If Necessary)||6/6/2012||Chesapeake Energy Arena||$1,007.82|
|NBA Finals: TBD at Thunder – HG 1 (If Necessary – Date TBD)||TBD||Chesapeake Energy Arena||$989.33|
|NBA Finals: TBD at Thunder – HG 2 (If Necessary – Date TBD)||TBD||Chesapeake Energy Arena||$869.13|
|NBA Finals: TBD at Thunder – HG 3 (If Necessary – Date TBD)||TBD||Chesapeake Energy Arena||$1,071.93|
|NBA Finals: TBD at Thunder – HG 4 (If Necessary – Date TBD)||TBD||Chesapeake Energy Arena||$1,461.55|