By Chris Lehman
I must start by giving credit to Skip Bayless for calling this in the preseason. When it turned out that my preseason pick would play his in the western finals I was hoping that OKC would win so I could stick it to Bayless (in my head because I highly doubt he even knows of my existence).
When breaking down this matchup in my western conference finals preview I said that the Spurs were the best team in the NBA and had been all year. They simply don’t have a weakness. First of all they have, in my opinion, the MVP in Tony Parker. On top of that, Tim Duncan has been considered by some as the best power forward of this generation. Timmy D is 36 now but is looking as youthful and athletic as he was when they won the championship 5 years ago or even nearly a decade ago!
When I was in 8th grade at the Mirman School, some of the guys in my class would play against the faculty every week. That matcup was actually very similar to this one. We were younger, faster and more individually talented. The faculty (representing the Spurs) were obviously much older, slow and not the best individual players. They won just about every game though, because they had been playing together for years and would annoy us with their passes that were only possible because of their chemistry. That and they always won the rebound battle.
The ONLY reason I was able to pick the Thunder was because my gut told me to. Up until now, that has been trustworthy enough. In this case, however, I don’t think it’s going to play out that way.
I previously said that the Spurs SHOULD win the championship and the only way that they wouldn’t was if the Thunder were able to do 3 things. Harden had to outplay Ginobili which may have happened in game two. Kendrick Perkins had to play physical with Tim Duncan, which didn’t happen. And lastly, Russell Westbrook had to maintain his high level of play. He is shooting a mediocre 37% against the Spurs as opposed to the 48% that he shot against the Lakers. Since they have been unable to do these 3 things that I thought they would achieve, the Spurs not only should win, but they will win.
In game 2, Kevin Durant scored 31 points on 10-17 shooting and made 8-8 free throws. James Harden scored 30 on 10-13 shooting and made 10-13 free throws. Westbrook added 27 on his less than par shooting. Between the 3 of them, they scored 88 points on 55% shooting, which is phenomenal. On top of that, Tim Duncan only scored 11 points on 2-11 shooting. If the Thunder couldn’t get it done under those circumstances, I don’t see any chance for them to win. Sure they may win one or two on their home court with the energy of their home crowd, but there’s no way they can win a 7 game series.
Being a Lakers fan, there are 3 teams left out of the 4 that I absolutely despise. The Thunder are the only one that I don’t. Unfortunately, they will not make the finals. It hurts me to change my pick, but the true MVP, Tony Parker, will lead his team to another championship.