The Western Conference Finals began on Sunday, May 27th, in San Antonio. The Spurs took on the Thunder, and if Game 1 is any indication, this is definitely a match-up worth watching. The Spurs ultimately pulled off the 101-98 victory behind Manu Ginobili’s 11 points in the fourth quarter, and 26 points overall. In addition, Tony Parker had 18 points and six assists, and Tim Duncan had 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Spurs extended their history-matching winning streak to 19 (tied with the 2001 Lakers) with this Game 1 victory. If the Spurs can pull off a Game 2 victory on Tuesday, they would break the record for longest winning streak that has extended into the playoffs.
The Spurs are now 9-0 in the 2012 playoffs, and they truly have been playing flawless basketball recently. Gregg Popovich told his team recently, “I want some nasty!” The Spurs have followed through on this request by playing aggressive, gritty, and passionate basketball, and this was on perfect display in Game 1. As perfect as the Spurs looked, the Oklahoma City Thunder played a strong game as well. Kevin Durant had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Russell Westbrook had 17 points and five assists, and James Harden had 19 points, however, nine of those points came in the last, meaningless minutes of the game. The Thunder played lock-down defense throughout three quarters, but they weren’t able to stop the surging Spurs in the fourth quarter. This will be a competitive series, but the more experienced Spurs are playing too flawlessly to lose this series.
SERIES PREDICTION: Spurs win in 6.
The Eastern Conference Finals started on Monday, May 28th, in Miami. The Heat took on the Celtics in their first game match-up and like many of the Heat’s games, LeBron James took over. James had 32 points and 13 rebounds and Dwyane Wade had 22 points and seven assists to lead the Heat to a 93-79 victory. The Heat didn’t receive much help from any other players, but their two leading scorers were enough to stop the aging, injured Celtics. With Avery Bradley out the rest of the season because of shoulder surgery and Ray Allen limping along with ankle/foot problems, the Celtics need to find some answers to the fast-paced game of the Heat.
Ever since the Celtics moved Kevin Garnett over to the center position, he has flourished. In Game 1, he had 23 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 56% from the field. Rajon Rondo had a decent game, with 16 points and seven assists, but the other members of the Big Four struggled as Paul Pierce only had 12 points on 28% shooting and Ray Allen only had 6 points on 14% shooting. The Celtics received barely any bench production, and this must change if they want to win this series. The Celtics have disproved many people in the playoffs so far, but it seems as if they will simply run out of steam during this series.
SERIES PREDICTION: Heat win in 6.