By winstonharris on May 18, 2014
The San Antonio Spurs are set to face the Oklahoma City Thunder for the chance to reach the pinnacle of basketball excellence. The top two teams in the Western Conference are sure to bring quite a show, but the Spurs have their sights set on redemption for last year's unexpected result. Let's take a look at the five keys the Spurs must focus on to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
The job of guarding the league MVP is no easy task, but the blueprint was laid out by the Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen in their first-round series. Kawhi Leonard must impose his physical will on Durant and make him second-guess putting the rock on the floor.
The Spurs have had some trouble over passing, which has lead to unforced turnovers. If they can be a little more selfish and force some turnovers on the defensive end, the Thunder will be in for a long night.
The Spurs' bench has been on fire all season and the playoffs have been no different. The bench players were the key factor in their success against the Portland Trail Blazers, and they must keep up their consistent production. San Antonio's Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, and Manu Ginobili must provide scoring relief.
The Oklahoma City Thunder's offense begins and ends with Russell Westbrook. The scheme should be simple -- make Westbrook shoot it. If the Spurs can deny Kevin Durant and force Westbrook to make contested jumpers, the victory should be inevitable for San Antonio.
After Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, Tony Parker has been unstoppable. Despite suffering a hamstring injury in Game 5 against the Blazers, Parker is set to be ready for the Western Conference slugfest. With the absence of the Thunder's Serge Ibaka, Parker must attack the paint and put pressure on the defense to guard him.
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