One of my favorite NBA blogs that you've probably never heard of is Sonics Rising, run by Kevin Nesgoda. Yes, there is a Seattle SuperSonics blog even though there's no such thing as the Seattle SuperSonics, and hasn't been since 2008. That doesn't stop Kevin and his staff from putting out excellent NBA content all year long.
Case in point: Kevin gathered together the heads of the SBNation blogs for the top four teams in the Western Conference (Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and Rockets) and asked us all a series of questions about the coming playoffs.
Here's a sneak peek.
How is your team going to avoid bowing out early and hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June?
Well, home court advantage will help. So will having a top five rated offense and defense. A rested big three is a bonus (with HCA wrapped up, there's no reason for them to play) not to mention Kawhi Leonard finally making the leap everybody was expecting him to make after last year's finals.
But if you're looking for one thing, one stat that you can watch to see if the Spurs are tracking to justify their number one seed, it's turnovers. San Antonio does not have a stable of athletic players who are able to take their man off the dribble, so they rely on their system and passing to create scoring opportunities. If the defense is keying on certain actions, or if they scheme to take away lanes that the Spurs don't recognize, that's when passes are intercepted and fast breaks ensue.
The Spurs lead the league in assists for a reason. Every single man on the roster understands the playbook and is able to make his reads, set his screens and complete his passes. But as a seven game series progresses and the opponent becomes just as familiar with the Spurs attack, it's the adjustments that need to be made that will test the players. If San Antonio's main rotation guys are able to adjust on the fly to take advantage of the holes in a defense that's taking away the shots and motion the Spurs are used to creating, then Duncan will probably get his fifth ring.
If not, then the team with the defense that is able to get Popovich's guys to think before they pass -- that team will beat them.
For the rest of the answers to this question -- and for all of the other great questions he asks -- head on over to Sonics Rising and let your playoff preparation commence.