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Backdoor Cuts: Western Conference Finals Preview Edition

By Jeff Koch on May 25, 2012.

Lots of great analysis out there on the pending Western Conference Finals, so I thought I’d assemble a nice complement of links for your reading pleasure.

• Dan Devine of the great blog Ball Don’t Lie thinks offense will rule the series, but that the improved D of the Spurs might be enough for the team to prevail. He likes the Spurs in 6.

• Everybody over at 48MoH likes the Spurs in the series. In Aaron McGuire’s excellent post, he notes that the Thunder are 2-8 against the Spurs in the last 10 games and haven’t won a game in San Antonio since 2009. That’s a long time ago.

• Sebastian Pruiti breaks down two key components of each team’s offense. He says: “The Spurs don’t look to create a shot for a specific player. Rather, they look for the best shot in every possession.” So true. And one main difference between the Spurs and every other team in the league. He likes the Spurs in 7.

• Zach Lowe says what we’re all thinking. He takes the Spurs in 6.

• John Hollinger has been trumpeting the Spurs as the best team in the league for weeks. Hard to argue when you consider that the Spurs are an amazing 43-4 in the last 47 games that Tony Parker has played. He takes the Spurs in 5.

• Kevin Pelton thinks the Spurs can win in 5, but ultimately picks the Spurs in 7.

• Rob Mahoney discusses the critical role that rebounding should play in the series, and thinks the Spurs might hold a decided edge in wiping out OKC’s phenomenal offensive rebounding rates.

• And finally, make sure to check out The Big Fundamental, as they will continue their series previews with thoughts from lots of Spurs writers, including a few from this site.

Most of the links above do a really great job of objectively breaking down numbers and match-ups and trying to divine an edge for two teams that seem pretty equally great. So let me take a more esoteric, writerly approach.

The Spurs are playing for something greater here. It’s the difference between being great and achieving greatness. The Thunder are a great team, and they have the potential to be for the next 10 years what the Spurs have been for the last 15. If they win this series, I will not be surprised.

But the Spurs aren’t playing the Thunder; they’re playing against themselves, against the notion of legacies and destinies and against the very idea of “perfect” basketball itself. This team is the truest team I might have ever seen in any sport in my lifetime, selfless and dedicated to each other in ways that are at once mystifying and beautiful. The last 2 months have not been a fluke; this team has been on one of the hottest streaks in NBA history, comparing favorably with some of the greatest teams of all-time. We’re talking Lakers/Celtics/Bulls great.

The Spurs are seeking greatness. It takes a confluence of so many factors to achieve it, this team won’t let what might be their last and best chance slip away. The Thunder are great, and might be having this same conversation in a decade. But for this year, they won’t stop the Spurs.

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