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The home teams have won every game of the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Finals so far, setting up a couple intriguing best-of-three playoff series to determine who will advance to the championship round. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat still have homecourt advantage against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics, respectively, but will having that edge ultimately determine who makes it to the NBA Finals and who does not? We will know the answer to that question by the end of this week.
The second-seeded Thunder will attempt to break serve in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday after handing the top-seeded Spurs their first back-to-back losses in nearly two months. In fact, San Antonio's last two-game skid was immediately followed by a 20-game winning streak that ended after Game 2. Oklahoma City found a recipe for success back at home, where they have not lost since April 25. The team's role players came alive to support stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who had combined for 88 points in a 120-111 loss to the Spurs in their previous game at the AT&T Center.
In a 102-82 Game 3 win last Thursday, it was guard Thabo Sefolosha who stepped up for the Thunder with 19 points, more than any player on the Spurs scored. Defensively, Sefolosha also did an outstanding job slowing down San Antonio point guard Tony Parker, who was limited to 16 points, and added six steals. In a 109-103 Game 4 victory on Saturday, it was power forward Serge Ibaka who scored more than any San Antonio player with 26 points on perfect 11 of 11 shooting from the field. In both games, it was Durant who led the way by averaging 29 points.
Oklahoma City nearly stole Game 1 and will have to finish much better in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead back home again. The Spurs may have seen their 20-game winning streak come to an end, but they have still won 11 in a row at home dating back to the regular season. In those 11 games, they are 10-1 against the spread, with the lone loss coming when Harden hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the series opener eight days ago. San Antonio must find a way to get easy baskets like in the first two games when the team averaged 110.5 points. The Spurs have averaged 18 less points in the last two and failed to cover both times.
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