With two games gone in the NBA’s Western Conference finals the veteran Spurs have a two-games-to-none lead over the younger, upstart Thunder. Does this mean the best-of-seven series is over? Of course not. In fact, the Thunder should actually pull out this series. Here are five reasons why:
1. The Spurs have only held serve.
In the playoffs every win or loss is magnified.
San Antonio has won its two home games, just like it was supposed to. In fact, had it lost one, most prognosticators would be predicting its impending-demise at this very moment. The Spurs earned their home-court advantage with an NBA best 28–5-mark at home during the regular season, so it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that they took care of business.
Besides, San Antonio knows as well as anyone that a 2–0 lead is no guarantee. In 2004 the then-defending Champion Spurs took a 2–0 lead over the much-feared Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals (it may have well been the finals, being that they were considered the best two teams on the planet). But the Lakers, who lost to the Spurs the year before, rebounded to win Games 3 and 4 at home before edging the Spurs in a Game 5 classic thriller on their way to winning the series four games to two.
Oh and by the way, that 2004 Spurs team was composed of the same Tim Duncan/Manu Ginobli/Tony Parker nucleus, and coached by current San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, that leads their 2012 version. Clearly, a 2’0 lead is no guarantee.
2. Both wins were by single-digits.
Granted, the Spurs were in high gear for most of Tuesday night’s win before hanging on in the fourth quarter for a 120–111 win, but Sunday night’s win was pulled from the Thunder’s grasp in the final 12 minutes. Oklahoma City took the lead just before halftime and seemed to be sitting pretty throughout the third quarter, before the Spurs erupted for a 39-point final period that won the game 101–98.
Tuesday’s contest saw San Antonio play some of its best basketball of the season and still the Thunder battled back to within six with five-and-a-half-minutes to play. It has now seen the Spurs at their best and with the next two games to be played in Oklahoma City, the Spurs should see the Thunder’s best.
3. Twenty straight wins means you’re due for a loss.
The red-hot Spurs won their final 10 games of the regular season and have now won the first 10 of the playoffs. What does it mean? Let’s take a look back at some of the longest winning streaks in NBA history.
The longest winning streak belongs to the 1971–72 Lakers who won 33 straight games en route to the NBA title that same year. But the second longest streak was by the Houston Rockets who won 22 straight in 2008 only to lose in the first round of the playoffs. After that the current Spurs streak is tied with the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks that also won 20 in a row before hoisting the NBA Championship trophy later that season.
As far as playoffs go, the last team to combine such a streak with the regular season and postseason was the Lakers in 2001 that won their final eight games of the regular season and then the first 11 of the postseason. After losing to the Sixers in overtime of Game 1 of the NBA finals, Los Angeles roared back with four wins in a row for the title.
Previous to that the 1988–89 Lakers won the first 11 games of the playoffs before being swept by the Pistons in the finals. We’ll give them an asterisk here though as Laker guards Magic Johnson and Byron Scott missed a majority of that series with injuries.
The Spurs streak puts…