The outcome of Game 1 of the Western Conference Championship was decided by the two players who did not record a single rebound, assist, or steal in the regular season series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Round one of the Battle of the Alamo went to the Spurs, whose 19-game win streak remains intact due to the offensive outburst of Manu Ginobili and the defensive play of Stephen Jackson in the second half.
For nearly three months the San Antonio Spurs have rarely had to break much of a sweat, wrapping up both first and second round opponents in convincingly dominant fashion, most outcomes often decided by halftime. The rust of a long layoff by Spurs was evident in a first half that included 14 turnovers and Tony Parker sputtering instead of attacking.
The Thunder’s speed was on display in the first half, making the Spurs pay for their costly turnovers with uncontested lay ups and ESPN top-ten worth highlight dunks. However, in the second half the Spurs made the appropriate adjustments and combatted the Thunders speed with defensive execution and floor spacing on offense. Although the veteran-laden Spurs will never be able to win a track meet with the Thunder, they successfully made the Thunder rely on perimeter shots by clogging the paint with big bodies and deterring dunks by taking offensive charges.
Although most of the credit for last night’s win will go to Manu Ginobili, the defensive play of Stephen Jackson in the second half against Kevin Durant was truly remarkable. Yes, I know Durant scored 27 point but he had to earn every point against the physical play of Jackson and the Spurs. By the fourth quarter the physicality of the Spurs resulted in the Thunder being winded and sloppy, Harden and Westbrook both were called for offensive fouls and Durant’s feet were like cement, unable to get lift on his shots or get past the much slower Stephen Jackson.
Last night, Youth got served a dose of reality, that highlight reel dunks and crossovers will not guarantee a win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs tought the young team a few lessons one only gets through the experience of winning championship, we will see Tuesday night if the Oklahoma City Thunder were paying attention. Veterans 1 Young Gun 0- A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)
Series Prediction: Spurs in 6!!
Hall of Fame Coach + 2 Future Hall of Fame Players + Depth + Experience = 2012 Western Conf. Champions