Western Conference Finals: The Difference Between 2012 and 2014

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The Western Conference Finals is set.  The Oklahmoa City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs square off once again to see who will be the "Best of the West."  This match up is going to be one for the ages.  The league's MVP vs the best Power Forward to ever play the game, two explosive point guards in Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, and both teams hungry for a shot at the title.  Many are already comparing it to the 2012 Western Conference Finals match up between these two but it is really an entirely different series for a few reasons.

First, Durant is the league's MVP and is having his best year of his career (minus the couple games where he wet the bed vs the Clippers).  Will San Antonio have an answer for the best player in the league?  You never know what coach Pop will through at Durant but I'm thinking you can't stop him and it will be a waste of energy to even really try.  Look for Durant to score a lot in this series.

Second, Tiago Splitter will be huge for the Spurs this year.  In 2012, the big problem for San Antonio wasn't Durant and Westbrook, they get their points as always.  The menace that hurt them was Serge Ibaka.  Ibaka had too many uncontested baseline jumpers and nailed most of them, going 12-12 in one of the games.  With Tiago playing the defense he played on Dirk and LaMarcus Aldridge, he should be able to make Ibaka a non-factor on the offensive side of the floor.

Third, in 2012 the bearded man named James Harden single-handedly won two games for the Thunder and was really the x-factor for them in turning around the series when down 0-2 to win four straight and the series.  Sure they have Reggie Jackson, who has been a Spurs' killer this season, but I think Patty Mills will do fine in slowing Jackson down.  Without James Harden, I'm not sure if the Thunder's second team has enough fire power to hang with the league's best bench in the Spurs.

Ultimately this one could go either way as both teams can turn it on when they need to.  However, if the San Antonio Spurs play at the level they have for five of their last six games, I still don't think anyone can beat them four times.  Spurs in six.