Judging by expert opinions and predictions, the San Antonio Spurs are the definite favorites to move on from the Western Conference to the NBA FInals. They're predicted to win by nearly every NBA analyst over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the series that begins tonight and they won the regular season series against the Thunder two out of three games.
But it would also be wise for both teams to realize that the versions of the other that they played throughout the regular season will not be the same teams they are facing now. Both teams easily dispersed of their opponents in both the first and second rounds of the regular season.
For the Spurs, they are clicking on all cylinders and the Thunder didn't have to play some key personnel last time(s) around. For the Thunder, they are growing in front of the eyes of basketball fans worldwide and becoming the title threat everyone knew they would eventually become. Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus writes that both teams should be wary of expectations based on previous contests:
San Antonio won two of those, but Ginobili missed all three of the contests. Neither of San Antonio's key in-season acquisitions, Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw, played against Oklahoma City. Derek Fisher wasn't around for the Thunder. The teams played just once after the All-Star break, a 114-105 San Antonio win at Oklahoma City on March 16 that came in the second game of a back-to-back for the Thunder. The Spurs lost their next game and have gone 29-3 since then. These are different teams playing at different levels than at any time when they met in the regular season.
Game one is tonight at San Antonio.