Jun 7, 2012, 8:48 AM EDT
For a stretch of 20 games, 10 of those in the playoffs, no team has played a more pure, more beautiful brand of basketball in recent years than what the San Antonio Spurs did.
It was Hall of Fame talent being selfless — Tony Parker would get in the lane and score or kick to the corner three, Tim Duncan would take whatever the defense gave him, a 18-foot jumper or a jump hook over the left shoulder in the post. Manu Ginobili carved teams up, guys filled their roles, the ball moved in a way that would make Norman Dale from Hoosiers proud.
But in the Western Conference finals, youth was served.
The Spurs didn’t lose because they were old. But the Thunder won because they started playing well enough as a team and because they used they youth and athleticism cut off Parker’s penetration and blow up that beautiful Spurs offense. And there was nothing Gregg Popovich or anyone could do about it.
It’s hard because this year felt like the Spurs last run at it. It felt like the true end of the era.
They may bring everyone back, but that will not be enough anymore. Health alone will not be enough. The Spurs needed everything to go just right to have a shot this season — and they got it. The breaks went their way. Last year it was clear how much they missed Ginobili, this year he was there. Parker was healthy and playing maybe the best ball of his career. Duncan was moving like it was 10 years ago. Young role players like Kawhi Leonard stepped up. Stephen Jackson was nailing threes.
And it wasn’t enough. The obstacle was too big — OKC was making San Antonio work hard for good looks while seemingly getting the shots they wanted at will off things like a beautiful pin-down play.
And the Thunder are not going anywhere for years. Plus there’s the up-and-coming Clippers and other rising young teams in the West.
These Spurs will not admit this was their last best shot, but they did admit after starting this series up 2-0 they could taste ring No. 5. They got close.
But it was not enough. And it may be as close as they ever get again. Tim Duncan has said if he returns it will only be for a couple years (as a Spur, nowhere else). It’s hard to see their core being this healthy, this rested and this good again after the grind of an 82-game season.
The Spurs gave us something special to watch this postseason. They were magical. And hopefully that is how we remember them.
Because time is not on their side if they want to do this again.
Apr 28, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
I expect he stays in Cleveland, but nothing is a lock.
Apr 28, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT
It looks like Casey will be back. Probably. But nothing is certain.
Apr 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak both remain interested in Rondo, but have cooled a bit in terms of how high they’ll go to retain his services.
Tyson Chandler won’t be suspended for throwing punch at Dwight Howard in Mavericks’ Game 4 win over Rockets
Apr 28, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Watch and decide if this was the right call; it’s unclear, at best.
Apr 28, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
Lopez has a player option for $16.7 million next season, but could opt out to re-sign a longer deal this summer — with Brooklyn, or with someone else.
Apr 28, 2015, 12:57 PM EDT
He could need surgery.
Apr 28, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
The second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs just got very, very interesting.
Apr 28, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
Apr 28, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
Williams silenced his critics with a 35-point outing, and Jack had some words for Pierce afterward.
Apr 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Apr 28, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT
Kidd jumped up and down to make sure to get the timeout he wanted.
Apr 28, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT
The Lillard we remembered from last year’s playoffs was back.
Apr 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
Can Austin Rivers have another strong game?
Apr 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Houston needs to make adjustments to the new Dallas starting lineup.
Apr 28, 2015, 2:13 AM EDT
Without Mike Conley to check him Damian Lillard ran free.
Apr 28, 2015, 1:14 AM EDT
D-Will tied his career playoff high with this.
Apr 27, 2015, 11:23 PM EDT
Michael Carter-Williams and Khris Middleton combined for 43 points.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:56 PM EDT
Series is now tied at 2-2.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Washington’s averaged defender distance to the Toronto shooter was 3.55 feet, the closest defense any team played in the first round of the playoffs.
Apr 27, 2015, 7:58 PM EDT
The doctor will decide if microfracture is needed while doing a scope.
- PBT Extra: What does Kevin Love’s injury mean for his summer plans? 0
- Report: Lakers interested in signing Rajon Rondo as a free agent ‘only at a certain low price’ 18
- Cavs GM: It’s “highly unlikely” Kevin Love returns at all in playoffs, even if Cavs make Finals 30
- No Kevin Love, no J.R. Smith to start, how much trouble is Cleveland in? 26
- PBT Extra: Who wins Game 5 between Spurs, Clippers? Flip a coin. 8
- PBT Extra: Rockets must adjust to new Mavericks starting lineup in Game 5 10
- Portland comes from 10 down in fourth quarter to win 99-92, stay alive in series 5
- Bucks stay alive behind big backcourt performance to force Game 6 vs. Bulls 25