Mar 12, 2013, 12:21 AM EDT
There are two, slightly contradictory take aways from this game:
1) There are a lot of people that watched the Spurs look great in the regular season the last couple years but then look very beatable in the playoffs who think this Spurs team is like those. But there is a key difference — this Spurs team is a top three defensive team in the NBA. They are allowing 99.7 points per 100 possessions coming into this game (third best in the NBA, last season they were 11th).
Monday night the Spurs held a Thunder team averaging 107.1 points per 100 possessions to 99 per 100.
2) Don’t read too far into this one game as a playoff preview. This was the Thunder’s fourth game in five nights and it showed when Russell Westbrook is settling for jumpers and shoots 11-of-27 from the field. It shows when the Thunder have to play Derek Fisher 12 minutes (the more you see of him, the worse news it is for OKC). The Spurs bench was much fresher and better. And by the way, the Spurs were without Tony Parker.
The result of all this was a comfortable 105-93 Spurs win over the defending Western Conference champs.
The only message — don’t assume the Thunder will be facing the Heat in the NBA finals just yet. The Spurs are not young but they will not go quietly into that good night. Manu Ginobili still rages against the dying of the light.
Early on this looked like it might be very different. The Thunder went on 16-2 run midway through the first quarter to go up by 13. The Spurs were the ones that didn’t look crisp, giving too much space on defense, not rotating with energy and not hitting the glass (OKC opened on a 12-2 rebounding edge). It was 32-22 Thunder after one quarter.
But the Spurs bench was changing the energy of the game — Stephen Jackson and Manu Ginobili started making plays. Kawhi Leonard started knocking down jumpers (he had 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the second quarter. The Spurs went on an 11-0 run to tie the game, Gary Neal got in got in the act with a couple shots and suddenly the Spurs had won the second quarter 35-18.
The Thunder were settling for jumpers while the Spurs were getting the ball inside to Tiago Splitter — he shot 9-of-11 on the night for 21 points to go with his 10 rebounds.
Still, this was a three point game with 2:20 left in the third quarter because Westbrook found his touch and scored 13 in the quarter.
Then the benches came back in. And it was all Spurs. Boris Diaw knocked down a corner three. Manu Ginobili drove the lane for a lay-up bucket then stepped back off a pick and knocked down a three.
The Thunder turned the ball over on 20 percent of their possessions and didn’t close out well on shooters all night (particularly the corner three). Do that and the Spurs are too good and too disciplined — they will make you pay.
What was disturbing mostly for Thunder fans was they just didn’t have a lot of fight off their bench. San Antonio did a good job with their length of making it hard for Kevin Durant — he still had 26 points on 13 shots — but not Westbrook or anyone else could pick up the slack.
Danny Green added 16 and Leonard had 17 for the Spurs, who in their very Spurs way had six guys in double figures. No Tony Parker, no problem, everybody steps up. The Spurs have beaten the Thunder eight of the last nine in San Antonio, and with this win the Spurs are a full two games up on the Thunder in the race for the top spot in the West.
And that is another reason to consider the Spurs a serious threat to the Thunder when the playoffs start in a few weeks.
May 22, 2013, 11:50 PM EDT
At the beginning of this possession, it looked like Paul George of the Pacers made a huge mistake by not raising up for the shot when he first received the ball at the top of the arc. As the seconds ticked away and with the Pacers down three, things seemed to be breaking down to…
May 22, 2013, 9:52 PM EDT
Carmelo Anthony’s shoulder was clearly bothering him through much of the playoffs, but he fought through it as best he could averaging 28.8 points per game (on just 40.1 percent shooting, down from 44 in the regular season) with 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He injured it in Game 5 against the Celtics and went…
May 22, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
Mike Krzyzewski coming back to coach Team USA for the 2016 Rio Olympics is certainly a good step toward another gold medal for the Americans. Coach K has been 62-1 at the helm of USA Basketball. But it’s not the biggest key. That would be getting LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the elite talent of…
May 22, 2013, 7:36 PM EDT
Economists have done countless studies that show the economic impact of major league sports — and especially the impact of building new arenas and stadiums — are pretty negligible, often even painful for individual cities. I believe that. But it’s still hard to explain just what it meant to Charlotte to get the Hornets. We…
May 22, 2013, 7:32 PM EDT
We mentioned this in our story telling you Mike Krzyzewski will be back as head coach of Team USA for the 2016 Olympics — there might be some changes to his staff. One bit of news is in — Mike D’Antoni is out as an assistant coach, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.…
May 22, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT
For the next few weeks PBT will be profiling likely first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today we talk about one of the best dunker’s in the game right now. San Diego State is turning out some talent under Steve Fisher the last few years. That Kawhi Leonard guy is giving the Grizzlies…
May 22, 2013, 3:43 PM EDT
It’s no secret that the Dallas Mavericks want to get a big star to pair with — and eventually take over the franchise mantle from — Dirk Nowitzki. And there are only two franchise-caliber players on the market this season, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But to offer a max contract Dallas has to make…
May 22, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT
Kevin Durant has a plenty of business tattoos — he’s got ink, just not where it shows when wearing a basketball uniform. Somehow this shocked people, although if most of those people saw the 25-year-old from accounting they think so highly of out on the weekend they’d find he has ink under his suit to.…
May 22, 2013, 2:43 PM EDT
Not that there was any real question after he played in Game 5 against the Bulls then had a week off to rest his bruised knee but now it is official: Dwyane Wade will play for the Heat in Game 1 against the Pacers Wednesday night. So reports Tim Reynolds of the AP and the…
May 22, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
There is no need to panic Spurs fans. Not yet. Tony Parker has been playing through a sore calf for a while now and playing well — to the tune of 14 points and 18 assists in the Spurs overtime win Tuesday night. But after the game he was limping a little around the locker…
May 22, 2013, 1:09 PM EDT
Looks like Kevin Love will not have to do any recruiting after all. After saying before, during and immediately after Team USA won the gold medal in London last summer that he was done as the head coach of the team, Mike Krzyzewski has had a change of heart. Coach K will be back to…
May 22, 2013, 12:55 PM EDT
We said as much in our story telling you Vinny Del Negro was not coming back to the Clippers — this was what Chris Paul wanted. Clippers owner Donald Sterling personally liked Del Negro a lot and was his biggest supporter in the organization, so something had to override that. It was free agent to…
May 22, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
If you want to know what happens when you to right at Indiana’s Roy Hibbert at the rim, watch the video above or ask Carmelo Anthony — Hibbert sent him back dramatically in Game 6 last round. It changed the momentum of the game that eventually sent the Knicks fishing for the summer. So, LeBron…
May 22, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT
Whenever the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ends — which could be sooner rather than later if they don’t start cutting off Tony Parker at the point of attack, but that’s another post — Lionel Hollins is going to be a popular guy. Hollins’ contract is up as coach of the end of this season, and while…
May 22, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
Who do you want to believe? Monday came a report from the very reliable Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com that in his exit interview Dwight Howard expressed frustration with coach Mike D’Antoni to GM Mitch Kupchak. Which isn’t hard to believe if you watched the Lakers at all this year. But when Kevin Ding of the…
May 22, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT
NEW YORK – Kevin Love and Flip Saunders shared lunch yesterday, as both were headed to the NBA Draft lottery that night. They talk about the same issues that dominate their bi-daily conversations – leadership, expectations, workouts and, as Saunders put it, “more than anything, just about the vision that we have and how we…
May 22, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT
The top pick in the NBA draft hasn’t been traded in two decades — elite talent wins in this league and you get that by being bad, winning the lottery and drafting it. But there is no elite talent in this year’s draft class. So…. It’s been said by people around the league for a…
May 22, 2013, 8:12 AM EDT
Tony Parker takes what you give him. If you want him to score, he can do that — he is quick getting to the rim, has a solid jumper and still has the best floater in the game. But if you take away his shot he will beat you with the pass. And he beat…
May 22, 2013, 2:57 AM EDT
That was more like what we expected out of this series — close, intense, physical. Well, it was close for the final 17 minutes (just ignore the first 36), but in the end the Spurs got the win and are up 2-0 in the series. Here are three takeaways from this game. • Yes, Tony…
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