Tonight at 8:30 Central Time, the Western Conference Finals will resume with game two between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder in San Antonio. After winning game one and putting up 122 points on the Thunder’s weakened defence (without Serge Ibaka), the Spurs will be looking to take a commanding 2-0 lead in this series.
The conspiracy theories and intrigue will continue to swirl over how serious Ibaka’s injury is (and therefore his availability in the series), but it seems that the Thunder will be trotting out the same starting line-up as in game 1.
— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) May 21, 2014
The Thunder really struggled to protect the paint without their shot-blocking big man hanging near the basket, and surrendered 66 points in the paint to the Spurs – exactly half of their point total. If their interior defence doesn’t improve, expect this game and the rest of the series to be a whitewash. San Antonio have such great ball movement (lead by their maestro at the point – Tony Parker), that without a shot altering presence at the rim, the Spurs can get easy buckets all day. Without Ibaka, the Thunder don’t have anyone who can flash and recover fast enough defensively to counter the laser-quick passing and decision making that we have come to expect from these Spurs.
Having played less than 30 minutes each in game one, you can expect Duncan and Ginobili to have big games (assuming the game isn’t another blow-out). Although I’m confident he doesn’t care about such things, Duncan is not far off becoming the all time leader in double-doubles (152 to Magic Johnson’s 157). If Duncan picks up his pace a little (only 3 so far this playoffs), he could overtake Magic before the season ends.
The Spurs are 5.5 point favourites tonight, which is probably a little bit conservative. They were the best team in the regular season, and have been extremely impressive since game 7 of the first round. The Thunder on the other hand have been one of the more inconsistent teams in the playoffs (that distinction goes to you, Indiana). They went to seven games against Memphis, and had two games versus the Clippers in which one team or another made huge runs to win the game. This all means that the Thunder are never truly out of a game (or series), but they could easily throw away a winnable one.
Either way, I foresee a double-digit victory for one of these teams, and I hope it is the Spurs. Let us know what you think in our poll!