Royce Young blogs for CBS Sports, he also writes for ESPN'S Truehoop Network Thunder site, The Daily Thunder. He took some of his time to answer some questions about the WCF matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and The Oklahoma City Thunder.
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t lost a game since April 11 against the Lakers, what makes you believe the Thunder will win 4 games against them?
I think the Thunder are a more talented team. The Spurs are a better team and play much more consistently, but the Thunder possess more explosive ability. And in a series where often times talent wins out, especially over the long haul of five, six or seven games, the Thunder could have just enough.
What’s the biggest key to defeating the Spurs?
Perimeter defense. The Thunder can't allow San Antonio to roll from outside. If the Spurs hit eight, nine, or double-digits from 3, the Thunder can't win. They have to defend the pick-and-roll and hustle out, rotate over and contest shooters.
OKC had a 1-2 record against the Spurs this season, one of those games Tony Parker played just 25 and I believe Manu didn’t even played once against OKC this season. Any concerns?
Yeah, the Spurs are good. No secret there. Ginobili didn't play at all against OKC and it didn't matter. But while the regular season series gives a glimpse, I don't think this Thunder team is the same group that they were in the regular season.
Tony Parker scored 42 and 25 points against the Thunder, why has he had so much success against OKC?
The Thunder are a bit soft in the pick-and-roll and that's where Parker excels. He gets to his spots and can either attack or hit the jumper.
Who from OKC you’d feel will be the most important player for them to win?
Kevin Durant. The Spurs don't have anyone to defend him and there's a chance Durant could carry the Thunder offensively.
How do you see the battle of the coaches?
Well obviously it's a mismatch. We're talking one of the greatest ever in Gregg Popovich versus a pretty inexperienced Scott Brooks.
James Harden shot 50% against every game against the Spurs, do you feel he will be one of the biggest keys to beat San Antonio?
Harden is always a key just because he balances OKC's offense. He gives them a third option and someone to put the ball.
I’ve heard some crazy Spurs fan say Kawhi Leonard will stop Kevin Durant, how crazy is that?
Leonard's been an impressive rookie and he has the physical build to challenge KD. Long arms, strong build, quick feet. But Durant can score almost anyone. In isolation, Durant should get what he wants. But the Spurs defensive system is great at taking away scorers.
The Thunder have played extremely well in this playoffs, however, the Spurs are the anti- Lakers. They can pass the ball more in one possession than the Lakers do in an entire game, they have a lot of shooters , a quick point guard with experience & they rarely make mistakes. How'd you see the series playing out?
It's going to be close. The Thunder need to play four near perfect games. But I picked OKC to go to The Finals before the season and I'm not ready to give up on that prediction yet. So I've got OKC in seven.