Misconceptions About The Thunder: Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Count Them Out
The Western Conference Finals begin today, and it will feature the top seeded San Antonio Spurs and the number two seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. Many people feel the winner of this series will win the NBA championship, and that it will be the best series of the entire post-season.
With all that being said, it seems as though everybody is already penciling in the Spurs as the 2012 NBA champions due to their depth, coaching, and 8-0 record in the playoffs. They absolutely put the wood to the Utah Jazz in the first round, out playing them in every facet of the game. Then, as an encore, they swept the Los Angeles Clippers and put them to bed early as well.
The Spurs have all the signs of a team on the brink of winning a title. They are hot, focused, and they don’t mess around with their opponents. Teams like the Heat and Celtics have toyed with their opponents, leaving the door open for them to come in a maybe win the series. But the Spurs haven’t done that. They snuffed the life out of Utah and Los Angeles as quickly as possible. Not for one second did the Clippers and Jazz think they had any remote chance of winning a series against the Spurs. The Spurs put the pedal to the metal in game one of both series, and never looked back until they achieved the desired sweep.
The same can be said for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who swept the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, and then proceeded to oust the mighty Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The Thunder didn’t dominate their opponents in the same fashion that the Spurs did, but the results are almost identical on paper, and they did it against tougher opponents.
While I am one who believes that the Spurs are going to win the NBA championship, I am not one of those who believes that the Spurs are going to cake walk through this series. There are a couple of misconceptions about the Thunder that I want to address, and I think they need to be addressed before making a fair prediction for this series.
Misconception #1: the Thunder can’t win because they shoot too many jump shots. Let me dispel this theory right out the window. The fact of the matter is this: the Thunder steamrolled the Mavericks and the Lakers with their perimeter attack but also with their relentless attacking of the rim. Yes, the Thunder’s half court game is alarming, but they get so many points off fast breaks in transitions that it almost doesn’t matter how many jumpers they take.
Also, when they do take mid range jumpers, they usually hit them. Harden, Durant, and Westbrook are all fantastic jump shooters, and the odds that all three go cold is almost zero percent. If one of them is off, the other two can carry the jump shooting load while the other attacks the rim and scores in other ways. So, don’t think the Thunder will jump shoot themselves out of this series. They didn’t against the Mavericks, they didn’t against the Lakers, and they won’t against the Spurs.
Misconception #2: the Thunder aren’t deep enough to beat the Spurs. This one really gets under my skin. People say the Thunder aren’t deep enough because they don’t have enough guys scoring beyond Westbrook, Durant, and Harden. This train of thinking is also idiotic, because when you have Durant scoring 28, Westbrook scoring 24, and Harden scoring 18, there isn’t a whole lot of other scoring needed! The truth of the matter is the Thunder are a deep team because everybody outside of those three guys does their job. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins score in the paint off put backs, and also block shots/rebound.
Nick Collison grabs rebounds in the paint and does more dirty work inside. He doesn’t score because he doesn’t have to. Same goes for Nazr Mohammed. Derek Fisher and Daquan Cook do their job by hitting perimeter shots and stretching the floor as well as being guys that the defense has to guard. Thabo Sefolosha plays good perimeter defense and starts in place of Harden. Cole Aldrich continues the legacy of useless Kansas Jayhawk big man set for him by Greg Ostertag. In all seriousness, the Thunder are a much deeper team than people give them credit for, and Westbrook, Harden, and Durant are able to focus on putting the ball in the hole because of the great supporting cast that they have.
Misconception #3: the Thunder will get out-coached. This is also a huge misconception not because Gregg Popovich isn’t a better coach, but because people imply that Scott Brooks isn’t a very good coach. The truth is, the Thunder are well coached and have great respect for their coach much like the San Antonio players do for Popovich. While Popovich has 4 rings and is a hall of fame bound coach, this doesn’t/shouldn’t mean that Scott Brooks will be unable to make the necessary adjustments.
Misconception #4: the Thunder are inexperienced. This is a huge misconception because the Thunder are now in their third year of playoff experience as a squad. They have been to the conference finals before, and they have defeated the defending champions and the Los Angeles Lakers in tough/close games. They are a very battle-tested team, and in many ways are more experienced than this Spurs team. Lot of the San Antonio players have limited playoff experience. It is Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Gregg Popovich that have the experience. But that comes from winning a title 5 years ago. It’s been a while since the Spurs have been in this position. The Thunder were here in the conference finals one year ago.
The point of this article is to illuminate the minds of basketball fans everywhere about the truth of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are not a team that takes too many jumpers or a team that has too shallow of a bench. They are also not a team that gets out-coached and out played because of their youth/inexperience. If one is to pick the Spurs, it shouldn’t be because of what the Thunder lack, but because of where the Spurs are strong. The Spurs are playing the best basketball in the NBA and execute to perfection. That is why the Spurs should be favored.