Michael De Leon, founder of the website ProjectSpurs, answered some questions about the Spurs/Thunder series.
This series is going to be epic, the Thunder and the Spurs are so similar in many ways: you have the humble players in Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant, speedy point guards in Westbrook and Parker and battle of sixth man in Manu Ginobili and James Harden. Any opening thoughts?
I'm just looking forward to this getting started on Sunday. Since before the Spurs started the playoffs, I had it in my mind that they'd have to go through the Thunder to get to the NBA Finals. I think this was the best possible Western Conference Finals matchup of all the teams entering the playoffs and it could be the most competitive series of the playoffs.
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard have played really well In the playoffs, how confident are you that they will still perform on a high level against a tough opponent like OKC?
The Spurs have experience on their side. Overall the Thunder are still a pretty young and inexperienced team. Every Spurs player from 1-12 is always on the same page and has the same goal. The Thunder were not at the level they are now, but I knew they'd get there eventually, although I still don't think they're enough to beat the Spurs just yet.
Danny and Kawhi will be heavily relied on entering this series. I'm guessing Danny will see some time on Westbrook and Kawhi will defend Durant. Nothing really fazes Kawhi so I doubt you'll see much change there and after playing two series' and taking on a huge challenge in Chris Paul, Danny will be good to go.
Which player from OKC you fear the most?
I could name a few different guys, but Durant and Westbrook are going to impact this series regardless. The Spurs really have to try to limit James Harden's contributions off the bench. If they let him get going along with the efforts of the others, that's going to be a big hole to climb out of.
Which Spurs has to play well in order for Spurs to beat Oklahoma City?
Tony Parker has to continue on the tear he has been on. We know Westbrook isn't a standout defender so Tony has to make him pay and try to attack the shorter interior defense of the Thunder. The second unit also needs to have a much bigger impact than they did against the Clippers. That second unit is one of the Spurs' best weapons and they have to be rolling the way they were to close out the season. Stephen Jackson didn't have a great series against the Clippers so I look for him to bounce back.
I saw Harden shot the ball really well in every game against San Antonio this season, why has he been so effective? I believe the winner of the bench, will win the series.
That's just who he is. He's very crafty and he has several tools he can rely on, from a reliable jumper to drives into the lane. He said when he came out of college that he patterns his game after Manu Ginobili, and I see some similarities there in the way they find ways to score.
Tony Parker has destroyed The Thunder this season and the only game OKC won against Spurs, he only played 25 minutes. Why is Tony so good against OKC?
He's been that good all year, but every player will tell you that they get up for games against some of the league's better teams and they look forward to big matchups. I remember just before Tony went off for 42 points and 9 assists against Westbrook, there had been a lot of talk about how Westbrook deserved to be an all-star and how Tony didn't. I' not saying that's his motivation, but he had also just recently destroyed Kyle Lowry, who was getting some all-star consideration. Westbrook's defense likely has a lot to do with it as well.
I believe Manu hasn’t played any games against OKC this season, how do you see him fitting in vs the Thunder?
. He's going to have to counteract what Harden does off the bench. While he didn't have a very good opening series against the Jazz, it looked like he was starting to get going against the Clippers so I expect him to be very effective.
I personally believe the Spurs will win the series in 6 becausee of the way they can adjust to play any kind of game and their depth is just too much to overcome. What about you?
I also say Spurs in 6. While this will be their closest series, the Spurs have the edge in quite a few areas. They also have the playoff experience and depth that the Thunder cannot counter. If the Thunder try to run and pickup the pace a bit, they'll play right into the Spurs' strengths. If they go to a halfcourt game, they can kick it into Timmy and let him go to work down low.
Any other thoughts regarding the Spurs/OKC series?
I 'm just excited for game one to see how things play out early. We'll get a better sense for the series then.
Thanks to Michael De Leon for his contributions, follow him on twitter @mdeleon and visit his website Project Spurs . Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyNBA and Like us on Facebook.