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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I really thought I'd have been writing this column a week ago.

The reason? Simple. I never thought the Miami Heat would need to struggle to take care of the Indiana Pacers in six games.

And who thought the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers would need to play a Game 7? Who thought the Sixers would even make the playoffs after their swoon during the season that took them from first place to no man's land in about two weeks?

But, in order to write a preview column about the Eastern and Western Conference finals, we needed to know which teams would be playing in them. That explains the wait.

The intrigue, though, is all out West with the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.

(Regardless of who won Game 7 in Boston, the East is a fait accompli. The Heat will roll).

On the other side, that's where things are interesting.

Two darn good teams with something to prove.

The Thunder, still a bit of an unknown to the occasional NBA fan in the East, needs to take care of the Spurs and then go on and win a title.

And their star, Kevin Durant, needs it, too. Durant is a wondrous talent, a revolutionary player, but to take the next step, he needs the spotlight of the NBA Finals and he needs to shine under that light.

If he couples an NBA championship with a gold medal at the upcoming Summer Olympics, he becomes the man.

To do that, he would have slain Tim Duncan and then LeBron James in order, and then would have the national anthem playing while he stood with his teammates on the gold medal stand in London.

It could, and we stress the word could here, be quite a summer for Mr. Durant.

If he wins.

And what about the Spurs and Duncan?

Didn't you think, I know I did, that San Antonio, after a great run (four titles) earlier in the decade, had had it.

The Spurs became a non-factor in the eyes of the public over the last couple of years and now have been reborn with an old, familiar face leading the way. The anti for just about any NBA superstar, Duncan, he of the silence is golden credo, is back for a return engagement.

And it could be the final curtain for him.

Another title would give him five rings, and what better way to walk away from the game than as a champion?

Hollywood does movies about those kinds of endings, but the thing about Duncan is he isn't the movie type.

He may go to the theater to watch someone else, but he won't want to have a movie done about him, where folks go and watch. That's not his style and that's what makes him different and admirable.

He's a superstar in every sense of the word, but never pumps his chest to let us know it.

In his case, sadly, actions haven't always spoken louder than words. The guys who yap, rap and do videos get the coverage. Duncan just wins games.

That's a big reason why, outside of going to a Spurs game, that you don't see many San Antonio fans in other cities. Unfortunately, it's no longer cool just to win, you have to self-promote. Unless you're Duncan, and that's cooler.

OK, enough of the storylines, let's get to the predictions.

The Heat will make the Celtics look even older than the Sixers made them look and sweep Boston in four games. Good morning, good afternoon, good night.

On the other side, the Spurs are up 1-0 in the series, so expect Duncan and Tony Parker have just a little too much for Durant and Russell Westbrook.

This one will need seven games to be decided and it goes to the Spurs, at home, in a classic finale.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

Copyright 2012