2012 NBA Playoffs: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs

Last Updated: May 27th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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Of all of the great games that we have seen on the 2012 NBA Playoffs Schedule, the best of the bunch may have yet to get started. The top two teams in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs, are set to get it on in the Western Conference Finals, and the winner will move on to play for all of the marbles on the 2012 NBA Finals odds! Don’t miss our 2012 Western Conference Finals preview and series picks!

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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs NBA Playoff Schedule
Game 1: Oklahoma City @ San Antonio (Sunday 5/27, 8:30 PM, TNT)
Game 2: Oklahoma City @ San Antonio (Tuesday 5/29, 9:00 PM, TNT)
Game 3: San Antonio @ Oklahoma City (Thursday 5/31, 9:00 PM, TNT)
Game 4: San Antonio @ Oklahoma City (Saturday 6/2, 8:30 PM, TNT)
Game 5: Oklahoma City @ San Antonio (Monday 6/4, 9:00 PM, TNT, If Necessary)
Game 6: San Antonio @ Oklahoma City (Wednesday 6/6, 9:00 PM, TNT, If Necessary)
Game 7: Oklahoma City @ San Antonio (Friday 6/8, 9:00 PM, TNT, If Necessary)

Key #1: The post defenders for the Thunder have to stay strong
This could really be the key to the whole series. The Spurs are going to be using their depth for sure to consistently give the Thunder everything that they could ever want, and that means a heck of a lot of driving into the paint and trying to control the low block. Battling it out in the paint, there just hasn’t been a team that has been able to body with San Antonio yet. That being said, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, and Nazr Mohammad are going to be waiting in the lane this time around for the slashing guards and the bigs for the Spurs, and we think that this is going to be a remarkable matchup. It isn’t about the stats for the big men for the Thunder. They just need to play well defensively, clean up the glass, and alter (or block) a ton of shots to make the Spurs uncomfortable. If they don’t and San Antonio can slash into the lane freely, this series is going to be a one-sided romp.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs Series Odds at
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Oklahoma City Thunder +175
San Antonio Spurs -210
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Key #2: The Spurs have to be careful with the pace of this series
Depth has been the key for the Spurs over the course of the first two rounds of the playoffs. They clearly had more bodies to throw at both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz, and they were able to just keep running up and down the court to take care of those teams without all that much in the way of problems. Save for Tony Parker and Tim Duncan though, no one averaged more than 26 minutes per game. The good news is that it kept legs fresh. The bad news in this series though, is that the Thunder are ready, willing, and certainly able to keep up at this type of a pace with the Spurs. San Antonio has to be careful to say the least. Yes, this is a team that has the experience of winning NBA Finals, but those wins all came in situations where defense won championships. Now, the Spurs are going to try to run their way to a title. When it ran into a younger team that was willing to run last year in the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio was in some trouble and eventually got knocked out of the playoffs. We know that this is what got the Spurs to this point, but the possibility is there that the Thunder could force this tempo even faster, and that could make things very uncomfortable for the flow of the Spurs.

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Key #3: The Spurs cannot commit too many fouls and send the Thunder to the foul line
If the Spurs are going to lose this series, there is a good chance that they do it at the charity stripe. For all of the good things that they do, the Spurs really don’t shoot foul shots that well. Tim Duncan is a liability from the foul line for sure, and though the guards are usually all good shooters, there are too many on the court that could be fouled and sent to the line for crucial free throws that might be nervy. The argument could be made that Oklahoma City had that issue last year when it was deep into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history (since moving from Seattle), but this year, with the experience that the team has, there should be no jitters. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are all great free throw shooters, and these are the men that are going to have the ball in their hands. We have seen this team knock down foul shots all postseason, making teams pay for trying to get too physical with them, and the Thunder are going to continue to do that in this series. The Spurs have to find ways to stay out of foul trouble, not so much for their depth, but just to keep Oklahoma City off of the charity stripe.

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Posted in NBA Basketball - Last Updated on Sunday, May 27th, 2012 @ 8:48 am (EST)
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