The Western Conference finals are set to begin on Monday night as the San Antonio Spurs host the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Both teams are well-rested, entering the contest. The Spurs made quick work of the Portland Trail Blazers, ending the series in Game Five on Wednesday. The Thunder needed six games to get by the Los Angeles Clippers, and they’ve had three days off.
San Antonio has home-court advantage, after leading the NBA with 62 wins. Oklahoma City, though, has proven that they can beat the top team in the West. They won all four games between the two teams in the regular season.
The Thunder didn’t need Kevin Durant to carry them in their victories over the Spurs. He averaged 26.3 points per game against San Antonio. The MVP only scored less against the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics.
When San Antonio clinched their series against the Blazers, it was a bittersweet victory. Tony Parker left Game Five with a hamstring injury, and there was concern that it could affect his status for the Western Conference finals. The ailment though, might not affect him against the Thunder. He’ll play in Game One and has said he’s feeling better. It’s something the Spurs will have to keep an eye on, considering he battled a hamstring injury in last year’s NBA Finals, and it appeared to limit him.
Oklahoma City will be without one of their top players for the rest of the playoffs. A calf injury will prevent Serge Ibaka from competing against the Spurs. In the regular season, he was the Thunder's third-leading scorer, and No.1 rebounder. His 2.7 blocks per game ranked second in all of basketball. Ibaka could have been a key in helping Oklahoma City upset San Antonio. He had some of his best games against the Spurs in 2013-2014, averaging a double-double and recording four blocks per game.
The Spurs are favored to take the first game of the series. They are 5.5-point favorites at home. The over/under has been set at 209.
The contest is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET on TNT. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with TNT Overtime.
The Spurs had their troubles with the Thunder in the regular season, but just like the Brooklyn Nets took four games from the Miami Heat before the playoffs, their recent head-to-head history might not matter much. Without Ibaka, Oklahoma City will have a much harder time stopping San Antonio, who scored over 100 points in all of their wins against Houston.
San Antonio over Oklahoma City, 109-102