The San Antonio Spurs took care of game five at home and now they’re in perfect position to have a chance at exacting revenge on the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals. They have to get there first.
While the Spurs dominated three of five games in this Western Conference Finals series, they have yet to win in Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been on top of their game.
The return of Serge Ibaka lit a fire under OKC in game three, too, helping their defense rise up, as well as execute more smoothly on the offensive end.
On the flip-side, the Spurs have been touch and go in this series on offense, as center Tiago Splitter has been utterly useless and their “big three” of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the ageless Tim Duncan have run hot and cold on the offensive end.
For the Spurs to end the series tonight, all of their collective pieces will need to be on top of their game and they’ll need to win their first road contest of the series.
Ibaka is still a major match-up problem down low with his ability to shot blocks, while San Antonio can’t bank on stopping Westbrook and Durant in their own town. For the Spurs to close this series out, it’s likely going to come down to their bench.
San Antonio’s bench is easily what made them the best team in the league this year, and what has so far allowed their star players to avoid full minutes and extreme fatigue. Those role players that pick their spots and come in and do damage when you least expect it will need to take it to another level tonight, while Duncan and co. will need to stand calm in the storm to finish the job.
The Thunder will absolutely have more to say here than the Indiana Pacers did in their game six last night. Durant and co. won’t lie down at home and take a beating. But in the end, the Spurs know they need this one win to reach the Finals for the second year in a row, while OKC can merely force a game seven and head back to San Antonio, where they’re 0-3 in this series.
Pick: Spurs 93, Thunder 89