The San Antonio Spurs were in complete control, having just gone up two games to none against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. The games were even won in such convincing fashion that some NBA analysts thought the Thunder were over-matched.
Could this series be over in five games? Could it even be a sweep? Or did the Thunder just miss Serge Ibaka’s presence that badly?
Despite supposedly being lost for the remainder of the playoffs, Ibaka made a return in game three and the Thunder haven’t lost since. Heading into a crucial game five, will the Spurs prove that most of their trouble was simply a two game road trip, or that Ibaka really does provide this much of an issue down low?
If the latter is the case, the Spurs may have to worry about more than a potential game five loss. They may have to look back to a similar series with this same OKC team from two years ago, when they blew another 2-0 lead and dropped the final four games to lose the series.
The good news is San Antonio gets to find out who they really are back on their home floor in a big game five. Even if they split the next two games with the Thunder, they can hang their hats on knowing the deciding game seven would take place in their hometown, as well.
All that being said, the Spurs need to find a way to neutralize Serge Ibaka’s impact on the game. He’s going to get his shots offensively, but going to work quick in the post and getting him into early foul trouble is a key way to minimize his impact.
Look for Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter to get to work early, which should help open things up for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili on the outside. If the Spurs can get back to their inside-outside game and also clamp down on the defensive end, they should rise to a 3-2 lead at home.
Pick: Spurs 101, Thunder 98