May 2, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots over San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (right) during the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Dallas won 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Big swings in power are expected before and after the NBA draft. So before that happens, who are the top threats to the San Antonio Spurs out West?
- Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City Thunder
The return of Serge Ibalka came too late for the Oklahoma City Thunder to save their hopes in the Conference Finals, but they are confident they can play the Spurs better than any team in the West. With Kevin Durant as the centerpiece and Russell Westbrook and Ibalka as his wingmen, the team merely needs to strengthen their bench in order to battle with the champs.
- James Harden and Houston Rockets
Their first year was a productive one with their new trio of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parson. Still, the Houston Rockets should and will be expecting much more out of them in 2014-2015. An area they need to get better is on defense. Howard is good but even he needs help. A way to do that is adding more athleticism and versatility to the bench.
- Chris Paul and Los Angeles Clippers
Doc Rivers knows the blueprint to winning a championship. He accomplished it in Boston. All he needs is a little time to get things the way he wants them with the Los Angeles Clippers. Offense is not a problem thanks to the presence of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick but they need another big body, preferably someone who can bring defense and rebounding to compete with the always tough San Antonio Spurs front court.
- Stephen Curry and Golden State Warriors
If anybody isn’t hiding from their blatant attempt to go after the champs, it’s the Golden State Warrior. They tasted playoff success this past season and are ready to go all in to make a run. Having already fired their head coach in favor of Steve Kerr, they are now in hot pursuit of All-Star Kevin Love to try to pair him with Stephen Curry. That pairing, together with Andre Iguodala would be quite formidable.
- Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas Mavericks
For some reason few teams give the San Antonio Spurs problems like the Dallas Mavericks. Prior to their narrow escape in the first round after seven games, the Spurs were 1-2 in playoff matchups against Dirk Nowitzki and his team dating back to 2006. It’s a true Texas rivalry and the Mavericks are keen on making one more go at it. To do that they have to improve their rebounding and defense, both of which cost them in Game 7.