On a scale of 1-10, how worried are you about playing the Spurs?
Andrew Kennedy: 9. I am worried more about the Spurs than any other team in the league. They are obviously playing better than any team in the league but I do feel the Thunder have a good chance to win the series. While the Spurs have been playing great basketball so have the Thunder. The Thunder are playing better in the playoffs than they have all season and it is hard to imagine if that continues in the WCF, that they would lose.
You’re Scott Brooks: How do you contain the Spurs No.1 ranked offense?
AK: The Thunder have to be more disciplined on defense than they normally do and that starts with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Both of them are known to gamble on defense playing the passing lanes and going for shot blocks and that is not a great idea against the Spurs. They will make the Thunder pay for play like that. I think the Thunder have the athletes to contain the Spurs on offense better than any team and they have showed an ability to step up their defensive play so far in these playoffs. It isn’t going to be easy but I feel the Thunder will be able to do a good enough job of containing San Antonio’s offense to win the series.
Jan 8 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE
The Spurs have done a good job in defending Kevin Durant; he’s averaged 22.7 points while shooting 46.8% from the field. How do you explain Durant’s ineffectiveness against San Antonio?
AK: I explain it as the Spurs were a great regular season team while the Thunder would have games in the regular season where they weren’t executing like they should. They played the Spurs a while ago too and have definitely come along way in realizing their identity and defining the roles of Durant, Westbrook and James Harden. I also remember in watching those games that I felt the Spurs had no one who could cover Durant or even slow him down. He may have had some not so great shooting nights against them in the regular season but I expect in a 7-game series for him to really have a huge series.
If Oklahoma City is bounced in the Western Conference Finals, will their season still be a success?
AK: Yes. They’ve done a lot of things this year that are really good for the future of this team and they definitely took some steps forward. These are good and important things and the reasons why this season is already a success. Since they made it to the Western Conference Finals last season and lost this season could look to some like a lateral step but watching this team that simply isn’t the case. They are still so young and losing this series to the Spurs the way they are playing almost seems pretty fitting anyway. They have had so much success so quickly and keep improving every year that it makes it easy to forget how young they are and that they probably are a year away from reaching their true potential.
Mar, 16, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) looks for a teammate to pass the ball to as Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (5) defends during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE
Predict the outcome of the series.
AK: I think the Thunder win in 6 games. They have been playing the best basketball they have all season in the playoffs and I think that carries over into this series. The Spurs haven;t been challenged yet in the playoffs and while I don’t blame them for that or anything, I think now matching up with OKC will be a huge difference for them than the Clippers and Jazz and the Thunder could steal either Game 1 or 2. If they do that I can’t imagine the Thunder losing any games at home which means they will be able to win the series in Game 6. The main thing that makes me feel confident is that the Spurs don’t have the greatest defense or what I would classify as a “championship-level” defense. I think that each of the Thunder’s big three will have very good series and if that happens, I can’t imagine picking against them. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs win the series and I really can’t wait until the first few minutes of Game 1 to get a better feel for how this matchup will play out but I see the Thunder getting better with every game and if that continues I think they can pull this one out and move onto the NBA Finals.