In a must read article by Randy Hill of Fox Sports Arizona, Hall dives into the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Western Conference Finals match-up by getting the opinions of those who have been on the battle grounds against both teams, opposing teams assistant coaches.
In the article, Hill interviewed five different NBA assistant coaches whose teams aren’t in the playoffs. The names of the coaches are anonymous, but there are some really interesting thoughts and predictions by these select individuals. I always base the opinion of someone who actually does the profession or has been involved in the profession higher than just someone who writes about it, but has never actually been there.
One of the coaches gives his reason why the Spurs are so tough to defeat, and why they’ve won 18-games in a row and are undefeated to start in the playoffs.
“One thing they’re really good at is locking into a team for a seven-game series and figuring out what needs to be done to be successful,” another Western Conference assistant said. “They’re an intelligent team . . . an experienced team. They do a good job of not beating themselves. You have to play really well to beat them.”
An interesting perspective that another assistant coach feels will work in the Spurs’ favor is their superb pick-and-roll abilit. This coach says the Thunder haven’t faced a pick-and-roll offense yet that uses their system so efficiently.
“Pick-and-roll is a big part of their offense,” the second expert said, “but they’ll really go to it even more, I think, against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s bigs haven’t really faced that much high-quality pick-and-roll yet in these playoffs.”
Take a bow, LA Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
“They will against Parker,” the assistant continued. “The Thunder’s bigs (Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins) are really good at protecting the basket, but they’re not that good at cutting off angles off the high screen. They can protect the rim, to a degree, when Parker gets in the lane, but that just opens up opportunities for 3-point shots.”
For an opposing coach, it’s got to be both remarkable and inspiration how the Spurs are able to maintain a winning organization year after year. This coach uses the example of rookie Kawhi Leonard and shooting guard Danny Green as evidenced of how the Spurs are so successful consistently on a season-to-season basis.
“The things they may not be good at when they get there are what they’ll spend a great deal of time working on. That’s why (rookie small forward) Kawhi Leonard has become deadly on the corner 3 and Danny Green went from nowhere in the league to starter on a team that might win a championship.”
This final coach gives his thoughts on who will win the series between the Thunder and the Spurs. He even thinks the Spurs have the best chance at beating the Miami Heat in the Finals, if both teams make it there.
“They’re not playing any slouches in OKC,” the first assistant said. “And there’ll be some times in this series when OKC looks too talented to handle. But, in the end, I’ll go with the Spurs in this series.
“They could get the (Miami) Heat in the Finals, and the Heat is capable of beating them. But based on all the things I mentioned earlier, I’ll go with San Antonio there, too.”