NBA Playoff Analysis: Conference FinalThursday, June 07, 2012 By Charlie Clark
As the NBA playoffs near their finale, things really start to get intense. The league’s top four teams are going to give every ounce of energy into winning the title. In the Eastern Conference we have the Miami Heat vs. the Boston Celtics. In the West we have the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. All teams have three stars that are known as the core of their team. First off, we have the number one seeded San Antonio vs the number two seeded Oklahoma. During the shortened NBA season, the Spurs beat the Thunder two out of the three times. But within that series the Spurs were missing Ginobili, a key component in their team. Right now San Antonio is on a roll that cannot be matched - they have gone 8-0 in the post season and are riding an overall eighteen game winning streak. These two teams are ranked second and third in the NBA for ppg. This series will be high scoring and fast paced (with two of the fastest point guards in the league in Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker). To me this series comes strictly down to defense. The Thunder average over 16 turnovers per game (30th in NBA) compared to the Spurs 13 (3rd in NBA). In the post season, the Spurs have really turned up their defensive intensity, forcing opponents to average just under 89 points per game with only 42.3% shooting. But so have the Thunder, only allowing 92 points per game and 41.2% shooting. The trouble for the Thunder really comes in the lack of depth their bench has. Past their starting lineup and sixth man of the year James Harden, OKC really has no one. While on the other side San Antonio has without question the deepest bench in the NBA. But the Spurs need that bench, their an older team with all of their stars reaching the ends of their careers. Who needs a bench when you have the best scorer in the NBA, the fastest player in the NBA and just an all around great player who can all play nearly the whole game? If the series goes as long as it is projected to (most likely the seventh game), then those minutes that the Spurs stars have had to rest will be invaluable. With this matchup I give the advantage to the Spurs, but only time can tell. The Eastern Conference final is between the number two seeded Miami Heat and the number four seeded Boston Celltics. Like I said in my previous article, the winner of the Heat vs. Pacers series was going to win the Eastern Conference. I still believe this is true. While the Celtics are a very good team, they simply cannot match the weapons that the Heat have. If this was a series between the current Miami team and the Celtics 4 years ago then this would be way more interesting. But put simply enough, the Celtics top players (besides Rajon Rondo) are past their prime, while the Heat players are in the middle of theirs. But Rondo is the X factor for me in this series. Mario Chalmers of the Heat is a good point guard that knows his place in the lineup. Rondo, on the other hand, is by many people’s standards the number one point guard in the league. The way he orchestrates the offense is a thing of true beauty. His ability to slash through the lane and hit open cutters is remarkable. His only weak spot is his outside shot. But this may also be a good thing because the defense is forced to play off of him, so when you set pick and rolls up in the lane the defense ends up sagging down and this allows him to hit the sharpshooters he has surrounding the three point line.