The NBA playoffs are looking very familiar these days. Not only are the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers facing off in a conference final again, the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs are having their second conference final in three years out West. If that is any indication, the Thunder are right where they want to be after Game 1 on May 19, although the Spurs actually won big by 122-105.
When the Spurs played the Thunder in the 2012 Western finals, they won the first two games in San Antonio before Oklahoma City stormed back to take the next four. Now history is halfway to repeating itself, at least in the first part of the formula. But if the Spurs keep playing like they did in Game 1 this year, the Thunder likely won't have another comeback in them.
San Antonio racked up 67 first half points on Oklahoma City, shooting 57.5 percent for the entire game. The Thunder hung around despite a 9-for-21 shooting performance from Russell Westbrook, yet the Spurs finally pulled away for good in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 21 points.
Oklahoma City had suffered its biggest blow to date before the series started, with the loss of Serge Ibaka for the rest of the NBA playoffs. San Antonio took advantage with 66 points in the paint, as Tim Duncan had 27 points on his own. Unlike the Thunder, the Spurs had an injured key contributor come back and make a difference, with Tony Parker shaking off an injured hamstring to add 14 points and 12 assists.
Ibaka still aims to come back for the NBA Finals, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. However, the Thunder have to get there first, which looks like a taller order right now.
Like the Pacers were against the Miami Heat to start the Eastern finals on May 18, the Spurs were practically perfect on offense, used their home court advantage and didn't let their opponents hurt them beyond their star duo. The Thunder and Heat may have four of the biggest stars in the NBA, while the Pacers and Spurs may be less explosive by comparison -- yet they are the ones with 1-0 leads so far.
The Thunder will need to start winning earlier over the Spurs in the NBA playoffs this time, preferably in Game 2 on May 21.