San Antonio wins series 4-2 (Game 1 of 6)

San Antonio wins series 4-2

Game 1: Monday, May 19th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 21st
Game 3: Sunday, May 25th
Game 4: Tuesday, May 27th
Game 5: Thursday, May 29th
Game 6: Saturday, May 31st

Thunder 105

(59-23, 25-16 away)

Spurs 122

(62-20, 32-9 home)

    Coverage: TNT

    9:00 PM ET, May 19, 2014

    AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    OKC 27 32 23 23105
    SA 30 37 22 33122

    Top Performers

    Okc: K. Durant 28 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Blk

    SA: T. Duncan 27 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast

    Thunder-Spurs Preview

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- When asked about the oldie-but-goodie San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant inquired about Tony Parker's age.

    "Thirty-two," a reporter answered.

    "He is old," Durant quipped, drawing laughter. "He doesn't play like he's 32 years old."

    Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are even older. Duncan just turned 38 and Ginobili is approaching 37. The trio won its first NBA title together in 2003 and fought back Father Time to reach the NBA Finals last year. They will play in their seventh Western Conference finals together, starting with Game 1 Monday night in San Antonio.

    Durant, the league's MVP, said there's more to San Antonio's success than some mythical fountain of youth. It starts with the genius of Gregg Popovich, the league's Coach of the Year.

    "Their system, they plug guys in and out," Durant said. "They always stick to their same system. They get guys who fit. And they've got a great coach who gets those guys prepared."

    Even with an aging core and numerous injuries throughout the season, the Spurs finished with the league's best record. They did it with consistency and teamwork that has continued in the playoffs. San Antonio is shooting 49 percent from the field as a team in the postseason, with no player averaging 20 points.

    Oklahoma City counters with dynamic individual play from a pair of 25-year-olds. Durant is averaging 31.4 points and 9.5 rebounds in the playoffs. Russell Westbrook is averaging 26.6 points, 8.4 assists and 8.0 rebounds in postseason play.

    Westbrook, in particular, has San Antonio's attention. While Durant's play has been typical, Westbrook has improved significantly as a floor general during the playoffs.

    "He's an incredible talent having a great playoff run," Duncan said. "Some incredible numbers. Just an impressive athlete when you try to stay in front of him. His confidence is there."

    The Thunder will be without Serge Ibaka, who led the league in blocked shots. The mobile, athletic forward injured his left calf in Game 6 of the conference semifinal against the Los Angeles Clippers.

    "It's hard, but we're going to move on," Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said. "We're a very prideful organization and team. We're going to move on."

    Here are five things to watch in the series:

    THUNDER DOMINANCE: Oklahoma City won all four regular-season meetings with San Antonio this season, so the Spurs will take nothing for granted, even with Ibaka out.

    "You never get overconfident in that situation, especially against a team that we haven't beat this year," Ginobili said. "We know how talented they are. They can really score in bunches. Very athletic, strong, play good defense. So, no, we're not going to get overconfident for sure."

    IBAKA'S REPLACEMENT: Oklahoma City rookie Steven Adams is the most likely to see a spike in minutes. Veteran Nick Collison will play more, too. The Thunder could go with a smaller lineup at times and play Durant as a power forward. Coach Scott Brooks still wouldn't say Sunday who would start in Ibaka's place.

    PARKER'S HAMSTRING: San Antonio was likely to have significant help on Westbrook anyway, but Parker's strained left hamstring could be a major problem against Westbrook and Reggie Jackson, two of the most athletic point guards in the league. Parker said Sunday that the hamstring was still tight, but he plans to play. Jackson said the Thunder will test Parker early.

    LEONARD vs. DURANT: Brooks said Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is an All-Star in the making. The Spurs feel Leonard is the best equipped player in the league to bother Durant because of his length and energy.

    "As good as anybody can do it," Ginobili said. "We are lucky to have him. Nobody can guard him (Durant) 1-on-1. That's been proven -- he's the MVP -- but you can put him in some trouble, and then the team has to respond."

    SPURS' OTHER GUYS: One thing that makes the Spurs dangerous is their depth. Though Parker, Duncan and Ginobili are the best-known players, Leonard, Marco Belinelli, Danny Green, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills all play their roles well and are capable of being difference makers in the right situation. Oklahoma City will need to prevent the other guys from having breakout nights.


    AP freelancer Raul Dominguez in San Antonio contributed to this report.


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    Research Notes

    From Elias: The Thunder swept the Spurs 4-0 in the regular season. This is just the 4th instance in NBA history where one team was 4-0 or better vs. another team in the regular season and they met in the Conference Finals. In each of the 3 previous cases, the team that swept the regular season won the playoff series as well.
    From Elias: The Spurs have won 9 straight Game 1s, the 5th longest streak in NBA history and longest since the Bulls tied the record by winning 11 straight spanning 1996-98.
    The Spurs don't have a single player averaging at least 20 points per game entering the conference finals. Although there have been 12 teams in the last 20 years to make the conference finals without having a player average 20 or more through the first 2 rounds of the playoffs, none went on to win the NBA Finals (0-12). In fact, only 4 of those 12 teams even advanced to the NBA Finals. According to Elias, the last team to win an NBA title without a 20-point scorer through the first two rounds of the playoffs was the 1989-90 Pistons.
    The Thunder are 0-3 in Game 1s on the road since moving to Oklahoma City (lost 10 straight dating back to when they were the Seattle SuperSonics).
    Danny Green held the Thunder to 2-of-16 shooting when defending their players. Entering Monday, opponents shot 41.7% when guarded by Green.
    The Thunder had a defensive rating of 128.4, their highest allowed in a game this season.
    The Thunder allowed 67 points in the 1st half, the 3rd-most they've allowed in any half over the last 10 postseasons. The Spurs have now scored at least 65 points in a 1st half 4 times this postseason. They had never scored 65 points in a 1st half in any game over the previous 7 postseasons.
    After briefly holding a 78-77 lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter, the Thunder were outscored 45-27 in the final 16:30 of the game. Of Thunder's 24 field goal attempts in that span, 20 were jump shots.
    Without key defender Serge Ibaka in the lineup for the Thunder, the Spurs outscored the Thunder 66-32 in the paint Monday. In the four regular season matchup with Ibaka in the lineup, the Spurs had averaged 41.5 points in the paint.
    - The Spurs shot 47.1% in the paint with Serge Ibaka on the court during the regular season compared to 61.3% with Ibaka off the court.
    - Tim Duncan scored 20 points in the paint, 14 of which came when he was cutting to the basket. The other Spurs players were able to find him, as five different Spurs assisted on Duncan's seven cuts in the paint.
    - The Spurs also scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting on drives to the basket. Eight of Tony Parker's 14 points came off of drives.

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