Editor's note: Oklahoma City Forward Serge Ibaka will miss game 1 due to injury, and he is out indefinitely.
Tony Parker (Spurs) vs. Russell Westbrook (Thunder)
Danny Green (Spurs) vs. Thabo Sefalosha (Thunder)
Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) vs. Kevin Durant (Thunder)
Tim Duncan (Spurs) vs. Nick Collison (Thunder)
Tiago Splitter (Spurs) vs. Kendrick Perkins (Thunder)
Key Thunder Bench Players: PG Reggie Jackson, SG Caron Butler, C Steven Adams
Key Spurs Bench Players: PG Patty Mills, SG Manu Ginobli, C Boris Diaw
Gregg Popovich (Spurs) vs. Scott Brooks (Thunder)
Overall total: Spurs: 6 Thunder: 1
Even without Ibaka, this should be a great series. Because of their overall athletic superiority, I could see the Thunder pushing this to seven games and maybe even advance on. But to do so they'll need Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to play their best every game, something they haven't been able to do so far in a series in their time together. The Spurs, meanwhile, have everything they need to advance to the Finals yet again. They have team work, unselfish play from their stars, and also get a solid contribution from their bench. Coached by one of the best leaders of all-time, they don't lack the mindset or experience. The only thing that could keep them from reaching the Finals for the second straight year is the amazing athleticism of Oklahoma City. Before Ibaka got hurt, I had the Thunder in seven games. But now I don't think that's going to happen, not with the rim-protection they're giving up without him, not to mention that he's their third-option on offense.
Spurs in 6
Game 1 Prediction:
The Spurs hit open shots, get out to a big lead early while taking advantage of the Thunder's weaknesses while they try to adjust to playing without their #1 defender. Oklahoma City attempts a comeback, but San Antonio's stellar bench outplays OKC's own significantly and Kevin Durant & company realize they are no longer playing the Clippers, and that they cannot go down early against San Antonio and hope to win the game.
Spurs 117-88 Thunder