Western Conference finals preview


Western Conference finals preview

The Western Conference finals begin on Sunday night when theSan Antonio Spurs host the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams have been off fora while. The Spurs have had six days off since last playing, and the Thunderhas had five days off.Some are saying that the winner of this series is the mostlikely NBA champion, and no doubt there are some interesting storylines in thisone. The Spurs have won 18 consecutive games going back to the regular season,and the Thunder looked impressive in series victories over Dallas and the L.A.Lakers.Why Spurs will win: They are the mostexperienced team remaining in the postseason, theyre healthy and theyrepeaking. Whats more, their three-man core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and ManuGinobili has more support than it has had in years.In addition, the Spurs would seem to have an advantage inthe coaching department. Gregg Popovich has won four titles as coach; ScottBrooks is making his second consecutive appearance in the conferencefinals.How Thunder could win: Its not hard atall to envision an Oklahoma City victory in this series. These teams are thatevenly matched. What the Thunder is going to need to do to beat San Antonio isshow they are capable of slowing the Spurs offense down.San Antonio has executed better than any other team in theplayoffs at the offensive end, but the Thunders quickness will have to bedealt with.The Spurs will also have to prove they can guard KevinDurant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.Insiders intangible: Duncan is playingextremely well, but the Thunders front line is big and physical. If KendrickPerkins, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed can wear Duncan down overthe course of the series, the Thunder will be in better position towin.Prediction: Spurs in 7.

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

Does Draymond still care about DPOY after another ring? 'At this point...'

OAKLAND -- Even though Draymond Green still would like to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, winning a championship with the Warriors has quenched much of thirst for the honor.

“I don’t really care that much anymore,” Green said after participating in the JaVale McGee Celebrity softball game Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum benefitting the Jug Life Foundation, promoting a healthy lifestyle around water consumption.

“I cared before,” Green added. “But we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2 (of the playoffs).

“But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”

This is in marked contrast to what Green expressed early in the regular season, when he acknowledged the DPOY award is the only individual award he actively cared to win.

As recently as two months ago, in discussing his defensive performance in a season during which he made numerous memorable plays, including some game-saving defensive stands, Green let his words speak on his behalf.

“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow,” he said at the end of the regular season. “When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”

Winning a championship apparently has an impact on the significance of individual awards.

A finalist for the award for which he finished second in each of the past two seasons, Green said Saturday that his plan is to leave for New York on Sunday and be in attendance when the awards are presented Monday night.

The other finalists for the award are Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who won it the last two seasons.

All three players will be among those at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York for the inaugural telecast of the NBA Awards on TNT.

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Durant fires back at salty Thunder fans with custom cupcake hat

Kevin Durant didn't forget about the taunts.

In February, when Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Warriors, Thunder fans heckled him with t-shirts featuring cupcakes, a reference to Durant being soft for joining the 73-win Warriors.

On Saturday, the cupcake graphic made a return with one slight change.

Durant, playing in JaVale McGee's JugLife Celebrity Softball game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, showed up to the stadium wearing a cupcake hat. But instead of a cheery on top, a championship ring was superimposed on top of the cupcake.

So Durant, an NBA champion, got the last laugh.