x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Fascinating duel between youth and experience in the NBA

It should make for great theatre. Will the young legs win out? Will experience be too great a factor? Will the hunger for a first NBA title overcome the hunger for a last one?

San Antonio Spurs players, in white, celebrate their win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
San Antonio Spurs players, in white, celebrate their win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The kids are knocking on the door again. Pounding on it, really. The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder were expected to reach their conference finals, in fact, they were the pre-season favourites to advance to the NBA finals.

And here they are, right on schedule, all grown up and ready to advance to that next basketball station in life.

Only the old guys will not step aside. The Heat have to deal with the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, and the Thunder have already seen how tough the San Antonio Spurs will be in the West finals. It should make for great theatre. Will the young legs win out? Will experience be too great a factor? Will the hunger for a first NBA title overcome the hunger for a last one?

The Spurs are led by Tim Duncan (age 36), Manu Ginobili (34) and Tony Parker (30). The Celtics are led by Kevin Garnett (36), Ray Allen (36) and Paul Pierce (34).

At least on Sunday, the old guys ruled as the West finals got off to a terrific start. The Thunder jumped to a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, but just as it appeared youth would be served, the cool, experienced Spurs took charge and secured a 101-98 victory.

The Heat beat Boston in five games during last year's play-offs, and now the Celtics are back for more. The trouble for the Celtics is the Heat have a blend of youth and experience, having been to the finals last season. It should all make for two great series.

sports@thenational.ae

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