The San Antonio Spurs are set to clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals starting tonight.
Unfortunately for both teams, each of their major players—Tony Parker for the Spurs and Serge Ibaka for the Thunder—are hampered due to injuries. Fortunately for the Spurs, Tony Parker’s injury is not as devastating as Ibaka’s. Parker has a Grade-1 hamstring strain and is hopeful to play in Game 1, while Ibaka is expected to miss the rest of the postseason due to a calf injury.
Although the Thunder will sorely, and I mean sorely, miss Ibaka offensively and defensively, don’t expect the Thunder to just concede the series to the Spurs. The Thunder still have two of the best basketball players on the planet at their disposal who have tormented the Spurs in the past.
However, in Ibaka’s absence, other Thunder players are going to have to immensely step their games up in an attempt to make up for Ibaka’s production.
Here are a few keys that will ultimately determine which team advances to the NBA Finals.
**All stats courtesy of NBA.com