Western Conference Finals Game 1 Is Today

By Bill Simpson

San Antonio Spurs: The Western Conference Finals begin tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET on TNT.

Charles Barkley and his “love” for the city of San Antonio may be funny, but the headline of the series is the injury to Serge Ibaka, who will miss the remainder of the postseason.

Ibaka is, without a doubt, the third-best player on the Oklahoma City Thunder, so this is a huge blow to OKC, especially since Ibaka is particularly dangerous against the Spurs with his outside shooting.

According to NBA.com, with Ibaka on the court, the Spurs field-goal percentage is almost 10 percent lower (51.4 to 42.3). Their three-point shooting is 54.2 percent with Ibaka on the bench and 33.3 percent with him playing; And, lastly, per 100 possessions, the Spurs score 120.8 points per game when Ibaka doesn’t play, compared to just 93.0 when he does.

Those are some eye-popping stats in regards to Ibaka’s importance, especially on the defensive end.

Spurs have won 9 strait G1’s…longest streak since Bulls ’96-’98..Thunder are 0-3 in G1’s on road..and lost 11 strait G1’s back to Sea days

— Ric Renner (@RicRenFSSW) May 19, 2014

Ronald Agers of FanSided lays out the keys to stop slow down MVP Kevin Durant.

In the first round against Memphis Tony Allen used his physicality to force Durant into difficult fade away jumpers. In the second round against LA, Chris Paul stayed attached to Durant, as well. The Clippers further complicated things for Durant bringing a strong and fast double team. Durant had trouble passing out of it and turned the ball over and the Clippers got out on the fast break.

Here are more interesting stats from NBA.com’s John Schuhmann:

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