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A closer look at the Western Conference finals

The top-seeded Spurs take on the second-seeded Thunder in only the second conference final between two teams with just one playoff loss between them since the NBA switched to its current playoff format.

May 26, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • San Antonio's Tim Duncan, left, is seeking his fifth NBA title, but first will have to deal with Oklahoma City's young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the Western Conference finals.
San Antonio's Tim Duncan, left, is seeking his fifth NBA title, but… (Harry How, Ronald Martinez…)

1. SAN ANTONIO (50-16)

def. Utah, 4-0, in 1st round

def. Clippers, 4-0, in 2nd round

2. OKLAHOMA CITY (47-19)

def. Dallas, 4-0, in 1st round

def. Lakers, 4-1, in 2nd round

Season series: San Antonio, 2-1.

Key stat: This is only the second time since the NBA switched to its current playoff format that two teams have entered a conference finals with one postseason loss between them. In 1989, the undefeated Lakers and once-beaten Phoenix Suns shared the same distinction in the Western Conference finals; the Lakers swept the Suns before losing to Detroit in the Finals.

Outlook: The Spurs have what the Thunder wants: championship pedigree. San Antonio's Tim Duncan, seeking his fifth NBA title, isn't about to hand it over willingly but might have no choice if Oklahoma City's young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden turn in coming-of-age performances. The Thunder has lost only one playoff game in part because it has rarely lost the ball. After averaging an NBA-worst 16.3 turnovers in the regular season, Oklahoma City is averaging a league-best 10.7 in the playoffs. Long known for its defense, San Antonio has also developed an efficient offense thanks to superior spacing, hard cuts and crisp passes. Veteran TNT announcer Marv Albert said the Spurs remind him of the early-1970s New York Knicks in terms of ball movement and intelligent play, but he considers the Spurs deeper. "The bottom line is we execute," Duncan said. "We're unselfish with the ball. We move the ball. We're not looking for a shot in seven seconds -- that's never been a situation we want to get into. But if it's there, we're willing to take it."

Prediction: It will be a series for the ages but not the aged. Thunder in seven.

Game 1: Sunday at San Antonio, 5:30

Game 2: Tuesday at San Antonio, 6

Game 3: Thursday at Oklahoma City, 6

Game 4: Saturday at Oklahoma City, 5:30

Game 5: June 4 at San Antonio, 6*

Game 6: June 6 at Oklahoma City, 6*

Game 7: June 8 at San Antonio, 6*

Times PDT, p.m. *if necessary

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