Are the Spurs invincible? It sure looks that way. Oklahoma City tried everything short of impaling Tony Parker with a crucifix and still couldn’t slow down the red hot, no, sizzling San Antonio Spurs, losing a highly competitive, but ultimately futile, contest 120-111. These Spurs are infuriating, but only because, well, they’re THAT good. Even I’ll admit it. They piss me off, but leave me wishing the Jazz organization could somehow follow their lead (Corbin said he was taking notes of coaches in the playoffs – there’s only one coach he needs to look at: G-Pop). They simply do not miss.
Let me say that again: they simply do not miss. Ever.
Against OKC tonight, they shot an astounding 55-percent, and that number might be low thanks to some savage play down the stretch. Tony Parker is breathtakingly (and agonizingly) incredible. If he gets an open jumper, which he does on every possession, he nails it without hesitation (Parker shot 16-of-21 tonight from the field for 34 points). Same with Kawhi Leonard – a ROOKIE! – who made three treys and netted 18 points (he’d be on the bench if he played for Utah). On defense Leonard (along with Stephen Jackson) held Kevin Durant in check … That’s not a sentence I ever expected to type.
One of the advantages I thought OKC carried into this series was Durant’s length and shot-making ability. Well, he had 31 points but only attempted 17 shots. Not because he was afraid, but because San Antonio’s defense denied him the ball through most of the game. He only had, like, three touches throughout the entire second period.
Harden played much better tonight with 30 points, but man did he look winded at game’s end. Another bonus I thought OKC had: youth vs. veteranshipythingamajig. But, alas, in this instance the vets are stealing the, um, thunder? (Oddly enough, the vets are getting schooled by the young punks on the east coast – maybe a Miami/Spurs showdown wouldn’t be so bad … the best of the old versus the best of the new … )
*Tears streaking down face*
I’m literally stunned right now. I mentioned this before, but I have never seen a team play with such … precision. Perfection? Hell, if they mess up defensively G-Pop belittles his players on national TV (even when they carry a 16 point lead) – the man is a micro-manager’s nightmare. He would make even the most anal person feel like a sloppy douche bag. He’d make that freaky dude in Sleeping with the Enemy look like Dennis the Mennis. OK I’m done. WAIT! One more: He’d make Jerry Sloan look like Eric Spoelstra. Oh wait …
Oddly enough, I can’t think of the last time I saw a coach hold such a tight grip on his team and win! Sloan held the Jazz organization by the throat with his old fashioned techniques, but he only marginally won. G-Pop is on his way to his fifth championship – and he’s doing it all HIS way. That’s simply remarkable. In The Big Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons laid claim that coaches weren’t really needed in the NBA. He might be still be right in some instances, but without G-Pop, the Spurs aren’t the team they are today. Weird. And kinda cool at the same time …
On the flip end, coach Scott Brooks attempted a couple of different rotations – going small in the last quarter there with Fisher, Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka, and Harden – and managed to make the contest feel somewhat like a competition. His squad trailed 99-91 with six minutes remaining, but, like EVERY team we’ve seen so far this post-season, couldn’t break that six/seven point deficit-barrier. (Again, I feel like I should apologize to the Jazz. Obviously you weren’t THAT bad. The Spurs are making Kevin Durant look like DerMarr Johnson. Perhaps Big Al deserves some praise for at least having the balls to say what everyone already knew: “Right now, they (the Spurs) just playing well, man. I ain’t never seen nothing like this … I just think we’re playing against a team that is at its peak, and I don’t see nobody beating ‘em. … It’s a great team. I just take my hat off to ‘em. Mad respect.” Amen.)
I thought Westbrook got a little crazy at times in the first half, looking ready to lay down some hate on Tony Parker’s dome at any moment. Luckily he wizened up and had a fairly decent game (air ball or no) with 27 points. (Fisher, on the other hand, is proving to be this series’ X-Factor – I like the shot he took tonight, but they just didn’t drop …) Whenever the Thunder made a significant move, Ginobili would hit a three pointer (which he did with 1:29 to go), or Parker would nail an open jumper. Duncan continues to show signs of his old self, but mostly its his teammates getting the job done (so THERE …?).
I’m starting to question whether OKC will win even one game. In every series, the Spurs have man-handled, nay, dismantled opponents with their amazing acrobatics. I would blame the refs (and there were some strange calls that came late in the game – like when Ginobili charged into Harden who back-peddled and got slapped in the face and then slapped again with a bizarre foul … seriously, why are we still counting on blind old men to make the calls? At one point, Fisher was whistled for apparently stepping out of bounds … the replay showed he was about two inches from the line and the ref was literally RIGHT THERE!), but you know what? OKC got to the line a few more times than San Antonio.
Nope. The Spurs (so far) have proven to be the better team. Hand down. And hats off! Like surgeons dissecting a heart, the Spurs know which players to attack, how to spread the floor, and how to more or less eviscerate opponents on a nightly basis. There’s a reason they’ve won 19 in a row and 32 out of their last 30 … simply astonishing. And horrible.
I respect the low-income teams tearing through the playoffs like my 4-year old daughter tears through the Barbie toy aisle at Target, but does it have to be the Spurs? Are they the only small market team capable of producing championships? Evidently so. And methinks no one can stop them … not even LeBron, Wade, or Marky Mark.
HOW OKC VIEWS THE SPURS: