1. Other than Leonard vs. Durant, which matchup are you most excited to watch?
Michael Erler: Leonard vs Westbrook? Whoever Kawhi's on is the one to watch. Also, Boban vs. Kanter, if it comes to pass. And Ginobili vs. anyone, which is my default stance, obviously.
Bruno Passos: Much of the Spurs offense will pivot around LaMarcus, and I really enjoy watching him go to work on Ibaka in the post. I also want more of Kawhi vs Kyle Singler, please.
Jesus Gomez: The backup bigs vs. Enes Kanter. I know Kanter is a defensive liability but he's amazing on the offensive glass and he has great touch for someone his size. I'm not confident Boris Diaw and David West can guard him. If they can, the Spurs' bench would have a huge advantage over the Thunder's.
Chris Itz: Nice-guy Duncan vs. Now-not-so-nice-guy Adams. If this is the end of Big Fun's run, I don't want to miss any of it. Like Erler with Gino, watching Timmy is my default.
J.R. Wilco: Green vs. Durant. Durant's numberss with Kawhi guarding him this year are pretty good, but Westbrook's aren't. Green doing a decent job on KD will allow Pop to sic Leonard on Westbrook and really limit half of OKC's 1-2 punch.
2. Is this Thunder team better or worse than the one the Spurs beat in 2013/14?
Erler: Let's see... They have Adams now and Kanter, but they've lost Jackson. Ibaka and Durant are both slightly worse and Westbrook is better. It's a cop-out but I'll say they're about the same.
Passos: I'd say a little worse. Jackson was a menace, Durant was more of a force, and the Spurs were fortunate that Ibaka was out of the first two games that year. I feel a bit more confident going into this series.
Gomez: Definitely worse. Ibaka was a game-changer then and has only been a solid player this season. Jackson was a problem off the bench. Their shooting as a team was better. Their defense was better. The Thunder have high-ceiling players on the roster, so they could suddenly look like world-beaters on Saturday. But this iteration, while younger, is more flawed than that one.
Itz: The Thunder definitely aren't better than they were two years ago, but that Spurs team really started to put it together against the Blazers in the second round that season. For me, it's more about how good the Spurs will be and less about the Thunder's level of play.
Wilco: For me, it's less about whether OKC is worse than they were two years ago, and more about whether this year's Thunder will be harder on this year's Spurs, and for my money they're not. Jackson was a horrible matchup issue for the 2014 Spurs -- far more so that Waiters or Kanter could be this year. And Ibaka's fall off means that the a huge mid-range threat isn't as much an issue this time around.
3. Which Spur will see his value increase in this series? Who will get marginalized because of matchup problems?
Erler: Green will be hugely important. They need his defense. Diaw and West both will be marginalized by the Thunder's size, is my guess.
Passos: Aldridge gets a bump in this matchup, but it has to be Danny Green, not only for his ability to guard either Thunder star, but the opportunities he'll have to hit big shots and make plays against OKC's transition game.
Gomez: I keep coming back to the benches when I look for an edge, so I think Manu Ginobili could be huge. If Ginobili can hit some threes AND attack the undisciplined Thunder defense after closeouts, he could make plenty of plays on offense. If the Thunder decide to go small, then he becomes even more important. The Spurs need Manu to have a good series.
Itz: I'll go Green as well with his defensive prowess and otherworldly defensive instincts in transition. Danny was 6-for-13 from deep against Memphis, admittedly short of his ideal number of attempts, but hopefully his aim stays steady; I think we'd all be happy if Danny shot around 45% from three for the series. As for Diaw and West, well, I'm not exactly excited to see how they fare on the boards against the best rebounding team in the league.
Wilco: Increasing: any player who can keep Oklahoma City's bigs off the glass (Boban maybe). Marginalized: Diaw and West if they can't rebound when the Thunder stay big.
4. Which random Thunder role player is most likely to become a Spurs killer?
Erler: Anthony Morrow, if he gets playing time. He's a streaky shooter and he'll get open shots.
Passos: Is Waiters random enough? He has a bit of Austin Rivers in him, and that brashness, with a bit of luck, can help swing a series.
Gomez: I can see Randy Foye hitting four three-pointers in one game but I'll have to go with Kanter again. I don't think the Spurs have someone who matches up well with him. I wouldn't be surprised if he averages a double-double.
Itz: OKC used a 7 1/2-man lineup in the first round and I have a hard time imagining that Donovan is going to start really experimenting with the rest of his roster, but I'll go Morrow as well.
Wilco: I'm going with Kanter as well. He's just a beast on the boards, and if the Spurs can keep the Thunder to one-and-done possession after possession, then it could be a shorter series.
5. What's your prediction for the series?
Erler: Spurs in 7, with home team winning each game.
Passos: I'm torn between Spurs in 5 and Spurs in 7, but there are 7 letters in Little B so let's go with the latter
Gomez: Spurs in 6, with both teams splitting their home games before San Antonio strings together two wins
Itz: I'll take the more optimistic route here and say Spurs in five. SA has a ton of talent and if they can figure out how to keep OKC from owning the boards they should have plenty on both sides of the floor to move on to the next round with a couple extra days of rest.
Wilco: I've already said that the Spurs win in 5. OKC's problems in the 4th quarter make me less scared of them than I was two years ago. But if San Antonio is unable to control the defensive boards, then I won't be surprised by a seven game series.