By Nathan Grubel @The_Only_Grubes on May 16, 2014
The Oklahoma City Thunder made it past the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals, but a tougher opponent awaits the team in the San Antonio Spurs. Here are five things the Thunder must to in order to upset the Spurs and advance to the NBA Finals.
The Thunder bench has to show up if the team expects to outplay the Spurs. San Antonio has a bench that can go as many as ten players deep, which can be a problem for many teams including the Thunder. Players like Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams and Derek Fisher have to be ready to step up and play big minutes against the Spurs in order to give the starters a rest and tighten the margin in bench scoring between the two teams.
The Spurs are a great team in terms of spreading the floor and moving the ball on offense, and the Thunder will have to be able to shoot the ball adequately enough to come close to matching or even beating the Spurs' production in that area of the offense. Kevin Durant, Sefolosha, Fisher and Caron Butler are all capable of hitting shots from deep, and they will have to do it consistently to keep up with San Antonio.
The Thunder must take better shots more consistently if they want to outpace the San Antonio offense. The Spurs and their head coach Gregg Popovich pride themselves on ball movement and finding the open man. The Thunder have the ability to move the ball similarly, but often times the team relies on isolation offense from Durant and Russell Westbrook. Ball Movement and better shot selection must be a priority for OKC, not iso-ball.
The Thunder are capable of playing quality defense against any team due to their great size and length at multiple positions on the floor (12th in opponents points per game during the regular season). The Spurs have a quality offense, and if the Thunder want a chance in the series, they must be able to limit easy looks in transition and in the paint for San Antonio, as well as clamp down on the perimeter shooters for the Spurs.
Durant and Westbrook have to be big for the Thunder to win this series. With Serge Ibaka potentially not being 100 percent after an injury he suffered in Game 6 against the Clippers, the Thunder's dynamic duo will have to carry most of the offensive burden for the team. Being efficient will be key in limiting the amount of possessions for a great offensive team like the Spurs. These two stars will be the difference.
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