2012 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference Finals - Thunder v. Spurs Game 6
In what came as a surprise to many in the basketball world the Oklahoma City Thunder upset the San Antonio Spurs at home in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals. Superstars always play well but when your supporting players have superstar performances, well that equals a win as it did for the Thunder in their 108-103 victory.
Looking forward to Game Six everyone is wondering can Oklahoma City maintain this trend. Certainly it is possible; in nearly every meaningful way the stats show Oklahoma City to be beating the Spurs. Perhaps most notable are the blocks and steals numbers, as the saying goes a good defense is a great offense. For the Thunder Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led their team in steals last game, and given that they are on the court the most, expect this to be a big advantage going forward.
The spread going into this game is five points favoring the Thunder which seems reasonable given the way the past three games have gone. To turn the bookmakers on their heads the Spurs are going to have to show something special in Game Six. The Spurs need to do what they do best, to play their game; they need to play a highly mobile offense to keep the Thunder out of their element on defense. Oklahoma City was able to adjust defensively last game, for example by placing Thabo Sefolosha on Tony Parker, which contributed to their win. A mobile offense with a greater number of picks will help free the Spur’s key shooters. Also, keeping Manu Ginobili free and on the court is a must. To surmount the tough Thunder defense the Spurs will need to shoot and score often. Bucking a defense trending strong in blocks and steals in one game is unlikely, take more shots with your dependable shooters and win on volume, that’ll be the key for San Antonio.
Oklahoma City will be playing at home where they won two games earlier in the series, expect this to matter as they sit on the edge of winning the Conference. Oklahoma City has been building momentum and confidence as they moved into the Conference Finals having ousted the Mavericks and then the Lakers. Will that be enough to shake the experienced Spurs off their game? Probably not, that will only make for an excellent Game Six. The spread favored the Spurs last game and the Thunder turned that on its head. The Spurs are absolutely capable of doing the same on the road against Oklahoma City. What will likely matter the most in this game is who can get the most shots off. Through this series both teams have had nearly identical FG%, if there is any small edge it is from the 3-point line where the Spurs have been slightly better. Bottom line is pick the team that you think can get the most shots off.
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