Basketball is a game of match-ups and the team that has the most favorable match ups and knows how to properly exploit them win games. This was evident in the Thunder and Lakers series where the team with the advantages took advantage of them aggressively going to the superstars and letting them earn their money when the games mattered most. The Thunder big three took advantage of the Lakers defense in the fourth quarter where the Lakers went away from the two twin towers in favor of jump shots and turnovers. While the Thunder did a good job of exploiting match ups no team has done it better over the last part of the season than the best team still playing basketball the San Antonio Spurs. They match up well with every realistic playoff foe that remain in their way of the championship. The Thunder, Heat, or Celtics are the teams that still pose a threat to the Spurs (sorry Sixers and Pacers it’s over).
Spurs vs. Thunder
The immediate task facing the Spurs are the ultra talented young legged Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs hold the season series lead over the Thunder 2-1 in what have been close games all around. The Spurs offense is so explosive and efficient that they give even the most athletic teams (like the Thunder) problems because of how well they run there plays and wear teams down with efficient offense. Tim Duncan is crafty enough to get one of the leagues leading shot blockers (Serge Ibaka) in foul-trouble while Parker is hell-bent on showing everyone that he is an upper echelon point guard. Parker and Paul was a great match up but Parker vs. Westbrook will be even better as the athletic advantage easily goes to Westbrook but the experience and craftiness goes to Parker. Both teams have great benches and the battle of the six men should be extraordinary as Manu and Harden will square off in what could be a high scoring battle between two of the best off the bench. Kevin Durant is a matchup nightmare for every team in the league but the Spurs will guard him by committee and throw different defensive schemes as the evil genius (Coach Popovich) will show his coaching greatness by devising plans to keep Durant guessing. In the end of it all this could well be the best series that remains to be played in this lockout shortened season. Spurs in seven.
Spurs vs. Heat
The Heat have two of the best five players in all of the world, but it may not be enough for the Heat to overtake the Spurs. In the earlier matchup this season the Heat got the best of the Spurs 120-98 before the all-star break. After the All-star break the Spurs and Heat have virtually switched roles as the team out in San Antonio has become dominate while the Heat went from elite to good but not great. Lebron and Wade are match up problems for any team and the Spurs are no exception but the team defense more than makes up for the one-on-one problems that the “Big Two” will cause. The Heat’s swarming defense could be compromised by the Spurs pick & roll offense that offers multiple options that have been giving teams problems all playoffs. The way the Heat attack the ball on defense they can be beat by moving the ball quickly or having guards crafty enough to handle the traps and double teams and make smart passes out of the pressure. The Spurs happen to be good at both of those things and could force the Heat to change the way they play on defense. Another thing about the Heat is that they thrive in transition, while
the Spurs are capable of running with the Heat they are also proficient in the half court sets where they have the best offense of the remaining playoff teams. Bottom line for the Heat is no Bosh no ring and unless Bron and Wade both average 30+ ppg we think the Spurs take this one in six games.
Spurs vs. Celtics
While we’re sure everyone in the league offices are clamoring for a Thunder vs. Heat NBA finals it is quite possible that the two teams that meet in the finals
Could be the Spurs and the Celtics. This would not be the highest rated finals of all-time but it’s a great matchup that has superstars meeting at multiple positions with Rondo and Parker, Manu and Paul, and the career rivals Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. Both teams have championship pedigree and know how to win tough playoff games, they can both run or play in the half court. The advantage for
the Spurs comes in the form of the depth and size of their bench and the freshness of their legs. By sweeping the first two rounds the Spurs will undoubtedly have played less games than the aging Celtics and would have more gas in the tank for the final Championship run we say Spurs in 5.
Let us know who you think would win these playoff series.