This was the greatest series that I’ve seen. For ESPN talking heads and twitter NBA fans that only check the score via hashtags this counterintuitively legitimizes all the other Finals wins. The Spurs took the defending champs with the best player on the planet to seven games (and nearly squeaked out a win in six). Make no mistake, the Spurs were not the better team. San Antonio’s best player is 31, the same age as Miami’s second-best player. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are 37 and 35-going-on-36. It was through guile and savvy that they nearly stole the series in Game Six with an amazing display of basketball. That the Heat rallied and made a miraculous comeback says more about their ability than it does about any choking. Like San Antonio learned in 2012, sometimes you can’t out scheme youth, athleticism, and talent, even when spotted guts and experience. Yet the fact that the Spurs, Spartan-like, battled and earned the respect of any and everyone does more for their legacy than the sweep of LeBron’s 2007 Cavaliers ever did. Much like I will always remember that Allen Iverson dropped 48-points on the seemingly unbeatable 2001 Lakers more than I will remember that LA wen’t on to win four straight, I will remember the series where we nearly pulled out an improbable win over the favored1 Heat.
There aren’t many things I can rightfully be angry about while being a Spurs fan. It has been a great run for these last sixteen years. Before 1997, there were some solid seasons. Really, all the way back to Ice Man, the Spurs have been good-but-not-great on average. Tremendous. It hasn’t been complete and obvious glory, though. No back-to-backs that get automatic love. No great Finals series before this one against the Heat. No charismatic players to rally around. We have had to learn to love the not-so-obvious stuff: the wedge-roll, the extra-pass, the well-timed close out without fouling. That kind of thing. It isn’t sexy in the traditional sense. The defense-centric teams that won titles early in Tim’s career won respect from insiders but didn’t captivate anyone north of Waco. The NBA titles were met with begrudging acknowledgment. We both remember the slights: The asterisks, the boring label, the small market sneers, the yeah-buts. This series erased all that. It took a herculean effort from the best player in the world and a return to HOF form from the second best player on their team to eliminate our guys. Throw in a HOF last-gasp three pointer from Ray Allen to boot. The Spurs ain’t no chumps and there no one can deny that.
That kind of thing can get you really philosophical. The kind one gets when faced with non-traditional success (like losing in the NBA Finals.) To wit:
Tim has made that layup thousands of times and missed it hundreds. Narrow it down to important games and he has made that hundreds and missed it dozens. Last night, he missed it. So it goes.
Basketball is a cruel sport. It is a game of trends, of runs, of averages, of reverting to the mean. Sometimes your shot leaves you. You try to stay confident, work hard to get in position, have good form, but it doesn’t matter what you do. Your shot will come back in it’s own time. You stand in all your old favorite places waiting for her to return. For it to be like it was before, when you’d do a rain dance that would barely move the net. Ask Danny Green and Shane Battier. Shane was reunited with his shot at the most opportune time. Danny’s left him sometime in Game Six. What can you do? You do what all the great shooters know to do: keep shooting. Sometime it isn’t just your shot. Sometime it is confidence that disappears. When that is gone you feel like you just learned the game, standing in the middle of the court wondering what the hell you are supposed to do next. Conversely, sometimes you feel like Neo. You see the next five moves; you, the court, the ball, your teammates are all one thing that you can control. It’s awesome. Ask LeBron and Manu. They know.
Basketball is cruel and that’s why they play best of seven and not best of one and that’s what makes Game Six so painful. Danny Green’s run was ending, while LeBron’s and Wade’s were starting again. One more game meant one more shot, one more chance to revert to the mean. Oh you didn’t know that LeBron shot a Nowitski-like career best from midrange and three point range this season? Didn’t know that Miami shot an NBA-record 55% effective field goal percentage? They did. The Spurs’ gamble nearly worked. It was bold, it was savvy. It didn’t work.
Like most things, all you can do is your best. The rest is fate and she can be unkind. The Spurs did their best. Fate was a tiny bit unkind these last two games. So it goes.
Heat were favored by seven going into game six, and six going into game seven. ↩
There is nothing like a game seven. It is known. The NBA gets a terrible rap for being a league of loafers (it is more akin to guys running a marathon than being lazy) and so for casual folks, seeing two teams fueled by desperation and finality is enthralling. Whereas I have a higher appreciation for the Association, I empathize with these folks. I’ll pretty much watch any Championship-deciding game. Drama!
If the Spurs are anything like me1 they are feeling pretty good today. All punches-to-the-gut heal in time. That time can be a day-plus. You know this as well as I do. Any loss, to a brother, friend, HS rival, blue-haired lady at the bingo hall, puts an ugly feeling inside you that can only be completely removed by a win. Sure, time will heal that would up but it will leave a scar. These losses are like snake bites in that the only real way to guarantee a full return to mental health is to quickly act. Those mixed metaphors are meaning to say it is good that we are playing so soon after, in the same place, with the same guys.
Kenny Smith, TNT Analyst tells the story of how the Suns came back on his Rockets and erased a 20 point lead to win a playoff game twice. Houston felt terrible, were angry and disappointed. Then they remembered how easy it was to get up 20 points. Similarly, after all the self-reflection, cathartic sharing of terrible losses during late night meals, and poetry writing (wild guess), the Spurs have to be thinking to themselves “Wow, we got up 10 points (and 5 etc) in the fourth quarter in a must-win game against the best player on the planet and his sidekick with the misspelled first name.”[^2}. The question remains: can the Spurs muster the requisite physical energy to win this game? That is the big question. They may be mentally ready, but sometimes you just can’t overcome playing 40+ minutes when you are 37-years-old.
Re: The Worst Spurs Loss Ever.
I don’t consider this one the worst. Though I had a similar feeling to Game 7 vs Dallas in 2006, after Manu fouled Dirk and the Mavericks dominated OT, that was In-Their-Prime Spurs. Expectations were higher. This team was expected to limp out at the hands of Memphis/OKC/Denver. I maintain that life post-2007 has been a bowl of gravy. I don’t have nearly the same level of hate for the Heat as I did the Mavericks. No one on Miami punched any of our guys in the nads, ya’ll. No one there made fun of the River Walk. It just isn’t the same.
Re: Illegal Substitution
The fan o’ drama inside me would have loved to see them replay the final 5.2 seconds tonight with Miami’s prize being an immediate game 7. A psuedo-NBA FInals double header! If the Spurs would have won, we’d have seen all those Miami attendees got home sooo disappointed. I’m cruel. I would have loved that.
Re: Finals Ratings
People are fickle, don’t know much about basketball, and are sheep. This explains everything that is popular on television. In the same vein, this is the reason that there are unattended quality football and basketball games being played in your local area. **Ahem****UTSA**
Go Spurs Go.
Slow, rec-league-caliber desk jockey, confined to his halficle for 8 hours a day, who looks forward to Starbucks and Taco Tuesday. No? Nothing like that at all? MMkay. ↩
Everything right and everything wrong in one possession. That’s how LeBron summed up Tony Parker’s last-gasp game-winning leaning jumper. It was a great basketball play. It was a great competitor’s play. That’s basketball. Sometimes you get lucky and the ball rolls in. Sometimes it doesn’t. The great thing about the Spurs is the way in which they do so much to control the controllable. That miss wouldn’t have ended things. Timmy talked about how he was positioning himself for the rebound the entire frantic possession.
It was more than that though. They stayed in ideal striking distance throughout. Miami is more talented, more athletic, and well-coached. San Antonio hung around. They didn’t get desperate and play Timmy 48 minutes or try drastic changes in game plans. The role players didn’t shrink from the bright lights of 56 HD cameras and 8 super slow-mo setups that ABC had last night. And right at the end, like any good marathoner, the Spurs sprinted to the finish line, giving the ball to the best player on the team, running their favorite set, and let him make a play.
I’ve noticed a markedly different tone in the Spurs coverage this time around. Instead of the usual, “No really these Spurs aren’t really boring please watch this Finals OMG we are losing so much money” kind of talk we got during 2005 — remember Al Michaels called that series? — this time it’s “Wow. We should really appreciate this team.” It’s great. I’ve been in full-on nostalgia mode for a while now. I said on Air Alamo that this is all gravy post-2007. I thought we had no surprises left, after our HOFer was past his prime. We all had doubts about Tony Parker becoming a go-to player, given his wilting in the all the Finals prior to 20071. Yet here I sit, surprised. I’m sort of giddy, as well. You likely are too. We just beat the defending champs on their home floor with the best player in the world, in his prime, getting a triple-double. We know we can beat those kinds of teams. We beat KD and co. twice last season. Will the Spurs be able to overcome a hyped-up, energetic Heat squad? If the answer is ‘yes’ then the demons from OKC will be exercised. The caveats about Russ Westbrook going down can be erased, or at least reduced to footnotes.
Game Two is so far away. I have got to think that for the Spurs, it will be a good thing. For the Heat, it may be terrible. When you lose, you want to play the next one immediately. The break between games has to be a killer. Speaking of breaks, the nine-day rest for San Antonio didn’t hurt the ball movement - four turnovers! - but it may have impacted their shooting. Those threes — especially from Kawhi— coulda/woulda gone in and changed this game tremendously. Good news: those were just misses, and not scaredy-short armed threes. The ball was whipped around and shots were fired with confidence, wide open and in rhythm. That is all you can realistically ask for.
Truth be told: he wasn’t super-special against the Cavs. He was the guy scoring the most that series, but the offense ran through Timmy still (averaged 22.2 ppg in the playoffs). It was the only series where Timmy wasn’t the leading scorer. ↩
I took a break. Had to work. Both real and school. Also going to work? Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. Ballin’ out of control just like they did against the Nuggets.
Steph Curry show! I mean I’m torn. I’m a basketball fan before I’m a Spurs fan so seeing someone ballin’ like that? It’s awesome. Seeing it happen against my Spurs? Gut-wrenching.
Seriously though. The dude is doing it with quickness and shooting. He has just enough wiggle to get to the lane that keeps you honest while he unlocks that sweet jumper. An uncomfortable sense of frustration comes over the team but worse is feeling the need to match. Every non-matching shot by our guys feels desperate and inadequate. The good news is that the lead isn’t something crazy and the Warriors don’t have matching fourth quarters (usually).
Of all the scoring Steph did, the most frustrating are the driving scoops. Those represent a break-down of the defense. Harrison Barnes grabbed a missed scoop and punched it. The little mini-breakdown felt less like the Spurs stemming the tide than it did GS getting cocky.
Ginobili starts out the fourth with a nice scoop. Steph responds with some more beautiful basketball. He’s doing the driving and kicking that we need Parker to do. He’s hitting the threes we need Gary Neal to hit. This is our nightmare.
The lead, once back down to ten, is now at sixteen. Eight minutes remain. The Warriors’ last couple of misses weren’t good defense just fortunate rolls for us. Neal misses a wide open rhythm jumper. Kawhi misses a follow up one off the rebound. I refill my cup with more drink to sustain me for the rest of this game.
Aaaand Steph just won’t stop. This time another scoop. Dude has 38 points. Routinely blowing by and scoring over our best defender(s). Mama, there goes that man.
I slipped out to do some Sports Walking of my Dog. I’m checking the phone. It is 102-88. Three minutes or so left.
I walk back in and TP scoops his way to the basket. A turnover. Another basket. There is life in these gray jerseys yet! Spurs cut the lead to 104-96! Some life with two minutes left. Now a stop. Things are looking good. The ten people in the AT&T Center will go crazy if we can get another basket right here, right now.
A turnover! TP tries to kick it back instead of looking at the cutter. Dick Jefferson’s corpse looks to get some revenge as he flies into the open court. He’s fouled before he can punch it though. If he misses these … I’ll laugh.
RJ clangs both! (Of course). KAWHI HITS A THREE. 1 KAWHI BLOCKS STEPH CURRY. TONY ATTACKS THE BASKET FOR TWO. THE LEAD IS ONLY THREE POINTS.
ANOTHER STOP. The lead is now down to one after a couple of freebies from Diaw. Spurs are on a 15-0 run here. Steph gets the ball on the wing. Does his little dance. He’s toying with us. I can totally see a soul-crushing shot-clock beating three over two guys right here. A miss! He shot it too long on a fadeaway from the left baseline! But. But the Warriors got the rebound. That reminds me that when I checked the stats as I walked the dogs we were being out-rebounded and out shot. Now we need another stop … and don’t get it. Jack hits a pull-up on Tony Parker that looks like something Chauncey Billups used to do when he was good. I’m okay with it. I don’t know how many stops in a row that was just then but you can’t realistically expect to get all of them. Now down three what do we do? Quick shot? Go for the tie? Steph Curry lurks no matter what.
DANNY GREEEN YA’LLL
Clutch three. Now, just have to stop Steph Curry from getting a shot off. You know, what we couldn’t do all night until just a few minutes ago. He’s working. Dribbling. Dancing. Get’s caught up! Tosses up a prayer that rims off harmlessly. 2 OVERTIME.
As always, these things are like a completely different game. The momentum could be with us but I can’t shake the thought of the energy we expended trying to come back. It looks like we did, in fact, use it all up. Golden State looks like the team that stormed out to the 18-point lead. We look tired. It ain’t over though. The Spurs are defended and trading baskets. Diaw hits a three to tie! Danny Green flies by two guys for the lead! We get a stop!
I realize I will need more to drink for the rest of this game. Steph won’t make it easy. After a series of terrible misses, he attacks the basket off a turnover to tie it at 113. No Timmy. Do we go to TP again? Gino? Looks like Kawhi, the new star ya’ll. Turnaround fadeaway in the post to put us up two. I’m stoked.
Steph misses another. Let’s end this thing, ya’ll. One basket puts it at a two possession game. Tony is dancing. Pick and roll from the top of the key. Pull up! … Miss. No rebound. Jarrett Jack scores. It’s tied.
This won’t be easy. I hate when I’m right.
It’s last shot time. Who takes it? Kawhi feels like the right option but he needs Tony to feed him. Do we post him? Nah. He’ll get swarmed down there in that time. I don’t know if he’s ready to deal from the post in that situation. Timmy makes an appearance after a foul.
Let’s do this.
Gino gets the ball on the wing. Pulls up with two seconds left … the ball ricochets off the backboard.
More free basketball. I probably will die.
Well after that initial series of turnovers and missed shots and flubbed rebounds we know that everyone is tired. This is good as long as Steph Curry is clanging ‘em. Golden State isn’t quite a one-man team but without that bit of magic they are pretty ordinary. This is as good a time to demonstrate superior execution as any.
Tony is out here missing. Steph is out here missing. Harrison Barnes is out here cashing threes, though. Tony responds with some spin button. Trading three for two is dangerous. Fouling Draymond Green means we are back down to a three-point deficit. Tony finally hits something farther out than two feet. Harrison Barnes … clanks a wide-open three! Offensive foul on the rebound! Chance for the lead!
GS leaves Boris Diaw wide open. He throws up some silliness that goes in! A stop! A Tony Parker jumper! Spurs up three! The Shrieking Lady is SHRIEKING!
The Ws get a couple points. Spurs are up two. We need about two baskets with this much time left 3. Tony, to Kawhi, to DANNY GREEEEEEEN.
That was so money ya’ll. Some clutch baskets down the stretch by practically the whole team 4.
Welp. Speaking of clutch shots, that miss from Gino after Golden State scored was not a clutch shot. Curry scoots down the lane and fingerrolls for two. Tony tries a spin in the lane. He falls after the miss. Curry scoops up the miss. Someone stupidly tries to steal it from him there. It’s like 5-on1. Golden State scores with 3 seconds left to go up one.
Series of time outs and false starts. Trading fouls with time outs.
For some reason Golden State left Ginobili wide open on the wing. He cashed a high-arcing shot. Finger in the air. Spurs are up two. I’m still dying. This is incredible.
Now a stop. That’s all that is needed.
1.2 seconds left.
Stopped. Jarrett Jack gets the last shot and I don’t know what to say about that game except that it was awesome. Diaw was incredible, too. He blocked Curry in that incredible run. Danny Green hit two or three huge bombs late/OT/OT2.
There are a ton of things to say. The Spurs lived up to the hype. They out-executed Curry’s magical Warriors. How much of a strategy is it to wait until Steph gets tired of cashing threes? How many times can we get a come back 18-2 run to tie? How many more times this series can the Spurs overcome being out-rebounded and shoot terrible in the first half?
We’ll see. Tonight I have a paper to write.
Go Spurs Go.
I am in writing a last-minute research paper that I should have completed about three weeks ago. Such is life. Still, I have miraculously found the time and ability to live-blog-distract-myself during said writing.
Immediately (or really, during, as it began with about two-minutes left in the Heat game) after MVP Bron and co dropped game one against the Bulls, the Spurs come out and look like they’ve been chillin’ all week also. So much of basketball is rhythm. So much rhythm gets lost in scrimmages and practice. There is no way to reproduce the do-or-die rush of adrenaline that comes with playoff game. Thus far, Golden State has played more recent games than have the Spurs and it shows. Missed buckets, slow reactions. This is to be expected. Still, the spark to life came and the Spurs are back in it. The Warriors are still ahead and looking good.
I need to move to Argentina, ya’ll. Messi came in in the 60th minute and scored two goals on four shots this weekend (the other two were off the top corner and off the keeper). Gino comes in and hits a three, gets a steal, and looks 31 years old. Mark Jackson is a good-ass coach. Golden State looks scrappy. They have shooters (which are always game-changing in that infuriating way), and Mark gives them some swagger and confidence. Curry just hit a three to put the Warriors up 42-31. It is only the W’s third (Spurs have four). I’m thankful. The GS beat writer Tim Kawakami1 said that he thought the Spurs would win because we could match them three-for-three. The flaw with that is this: Curry can get his own shot, even if they look impossible or ridiculous. The Spurs have a Rube Goldberg-style of getting those shots, comparatively speaking. The Drive and Kick style is awesome in the flow of the game but it’s hardly the magic you need in the playoffs. ***More soccer references warning *** It is Barca sans Messi-magic. That is to say, it is Arsenal.
Also of note: Bogut’s big-man floater. It is stupid. I hate it. Mostly because he hit it.
The Ginobili in-traffic-dunk will forever be my favorite thing ever.
Matt Bonner playoff poor-performance will forever be my least-favorite thing ever. Beside Juwon Howard judo-chopping Derek Anderson.
After a series of embarrassing strategic fouls on Bogut 2, Mark Jackson takes the Australian out and the Warriors come out of the time out and hit a three. It’s 53-49 and I’m out of snacks.
In my brief time as Air Alamo guy I wrote in last year’s season preview that Spurs fans should not be mad at the situation, that OKC had too much youth and athleticism, and we shouldn’t be surprised when we got dumped by a young squad of athletes, whether that was Memphis again or OKC’s youth troupe.
I was still sad when we were eliminated- especially by the way we were dumped. I’ll even admit that I didn’t take my own advice and was the tiniest bit surprised. I thought we had unlocked the secret of eternal basketball life. Instead OKC used our powers of ball-sharing against us and undid all the good that was built up throughout that weird lockout-shortened season.
This year we have the same squad. Whereas the 2011 champion Mavs have the all-reject roster, the 2012 favorite Lakers retooled with a HOF point guard and the most athletic 7-footer in the game. The Heat replaced shooters with a HOF shooter and a former $100 million man. The Thunder still have the best scorer in the game and a lot of talent that can score and is willing to share the ball. Overall we are one year older and the competition is one year more experienced.
This isn’t unusual. Our unwillingness to tinker is our greatest strength. The Spurs value the corporate knowledge, that oft referenced Popovich phrase. It has also served to render us invisible. There are only so many words that can be written about Pop and Timmy and the Spurs Way. Everyone is content to forget about the Spurs until June, when circumstances force them to re-pay attention.
This season we have something slightly different. The NBA press has long respected yet long awaited the end of the run. Fans here have anticipated The End for a while. Some, maybe even Tony Parker himself, have already declared the end as having come and gone. That debate is for another post. This season and in all the seasons to come instead of waiting to see signs of slippage and looking for a chance to retool, I want to see how far this thing goes. Don’t trade Manu. Don’t trade Tony. Don’t tank. Let’s be like Kramer and the car salesman. I want them to say that the Spurs and that other guy went farther with the same roster (or at least the same big three) than anyone ever dreamed. I want you to be there when it happens.
What will it look like? How far exactly can this thing go?
Let’s say it is the fourth quarter 5:39 to go. The score is tied 89-89. Where does the ball go? The guy with the hot hand? Tim? He hasn’t been the unquestionable choice since about 2006. Sure, he can win the games against the New Orleans’ of the world. Sure he can use his guile and experience to steal points from Anthony Davis and the like. How about Dwight Howard? How about Perkins?
Will it go to Manu? Depending on the night, depending on the week, he may not be up for it. He is in his mid-thirties and doesn’t dispense greatness with the the same frequency anymore. In the four straight losses to OKC he scored more than 13 points once.
Tony? He is 30 now. We know who he is. We know what to expect from him. He can score in bunches early. He can disappear late. It was fun to hate on him for a while because he had so much potential and would show little flashes of greatness occasionally. He is the youngest and has the freshest legs but he is not Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade or even James Harden. He is Tony Parker, sidekick.
The correct answer is the open guy. The system that go us here. It creates open shots. The flawless execution and ruthless corporate knowledge will render all opposition talent looking foolish and two steps behind. The obvious problem is the same one that was evident last year: we need Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal and all the rest to not only carry the team in the regular season and early rounds of the playoffs as they did so well last year, but do so against the very best the NBA has in the highest pressure situations there are. It is an incredible specific situation to prepare for, and one that won’t appear for seven months.
It is a test of patience and focus. It is trying to beat a video game with no save points. You have to go straight through to the end perfectly. There is no room for slacking. The machine has to be well-oiled and running smoothly or some other team will be holding the Larry. There is no out. There is no guy to toss the ball to and say “Clear out. You are the offense the rest of the way.”
This is the most intriguing aspect of the following the Spurs this and every year from now until the gas tank is empty. It is far easier to manage egos of the Heat guys in their prime, supremely talented guys that can win a game single-handedly, or guiding young talents on the Thunder, who have the best scorer in the game and something to prove. The Spurs have 30-year olds to manage, young guys to groom, and role players to coach up just to have the slightest of chances. Other teams need role players to “step up” when the stars are having an off night. This Spurs team needs them every night or there will be no tomorrow.
Prediction: 55-27. Exit Second round in 6 games to LAL. Bastards.
If Sports teaches us anything it is that the impossible is only until it isn’t. In the unlikely scenario that Kevin Garnett, enemy of Tim Duncan, spends his final years in San Antonio it would represent a significant change of course, surprise some people, and make me exceedingly giddy.
It would take some financial finagling. Hey, LeBron, Bosh, and Wade took pay cuts to get together. Duncan and Garnett have made all the money already. Both are über-competitors. If you told them that all it would take to win another, possibly last-chance title is a pay cut and some hatchet-burying?
The TD window is still open but only just. Tony Parker may just only be Regular Season good. He and Ginobili spark the new fast-break first offense. None of that has to change much. KG is a still-rangy big man that can pass and play the post better than Tiago Splitter.
And really, are we going to compromise a chance at a title for the development of Tiago Splitter?
Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson — that there is a list of ballers that don’t quit, don’t get scared, and still can play. We don’t have young guns like OKC and Miami. I can live with a roster of bad asses.
Starting out with made shots and a sense of aggressiveness was exactly the look I expected from the Spurs. How long they could maintain that run was in question. I was fully prepared to see a nice little 15-5 run to open followed by the Thunder unleashing that torrent of offense and rebounding and defense that flustered the Spurs these last three games.
Intead it was the Stephen Jackson-Tony Parker combo that went crazy. Jackson had four threes at halftime (4-4) and Tony went HAM with 21 points and 10 assists to my immeasurable relief.
So what happened in that first half? First, you must have noticed that when the Thunder missed, they didn’t get many easy put-backs. Also, most importantly, they weren’t getting easy buckets of TURNOVERS! Thats’s right. Instead of committing basketball suicide by coughing it up on offense, the Spurs were showing no hesitation, making shots (%60 from 3).
Everyone knew OKC was going to come out gunning and they did. There simply was no stopping it. The lead was fifteen to start, then it was eleven. Then it was ten. Timmy was getting hesitant on that free-throw line jumper. Everyone was missing shots. The rotations were too slow. Pop yanked Tiago and yelled at him. That didn’t really help. Durant hit free throws to make it eight. Duncan missed a jumper. Ibaka punches it.. Down to six.
Spurs countered with Jackson, Tony Kawhi, Ginibili, and Tim. Four quick Timmy points sandwiched a Durant three. Lead was 7. Durant got a dunk. Five. Jackson trades threes with Westbrook and Thabo. No one is making anything. Lead is down to one. Durant hits a three.
We are down one.
Spurs trade baskets involving spins, technicals fouls and missed free throws and get out of that terrible third quarter up one point.
The fourth quarter was a blur. That blur was the Thunder racing by. Tony and Tim sat to start the quarter with the thinking that they would need to go hard for the final eight minutes or so. That left SA with Gary Neal doing …. well, something.
Then it didn’t so much slip away as it did stay frustratingly out of reach. In a different time, against a different team, the Spurs get the breaks they need to close the gap. Instead, the Thunder stayed tantalizingly ahead by four or five or seven or three for the rest of the game.
Suddenly it was over. I knew it when Stephen Jackson missed a three. He finished 6/7 from deep and 5/6 from the line.
The Spurs finish the season 50-16 in the regular season and 10-4 in the playoffs winning 11, 11, and 20 in a row at different points. They go out on a four-game losing streak.
And so it ends. For a good number of fans this was worse than any of the other heartbreaks (2004, 2006) because Tim is 36, and Manu 35. This loss seemingly signals the end.
Yet that is the strange part about being a Spurs fan. They’ve never done it like other teams. When they won titles they slightly disappointed because they didn’t win back-to-backs. They’ve been written off in 2000 (asterisk), 2004 (getting old), 2006 (old, again) 2008 (old) 2009-2011 (old), and now? (Really old).
We’ve all been really lucky to follow this organization. Since 1976 there have only been a handful of truly mediocre years and a whole lot of deep playoff runs. I don’t blame anyone for having adjusted expectations, but I do think everyone owes it to their sanity to get a broader perspective of the situation. We have a really awesome franchise that can muster up a conference final appearance with two old guys, a frenchman, and a bunch of castoffs.
These last two years have ended disappointingly but only because the regular seasons were so surprisingly awesome. I wouldn’t trade this franchise for any other one. Not the Lakers, or Boston or Chicago.
Danny Green is young, hungry and motived (read his tweets post-loss). Kawhi Leonard might be an elite shut-down defender in a couple years. Tony Parker still has three elite years left. Tim is aging gracefully. Ginobili can always muster some magic if Paul Pierce and KG can. Stephen Jackson is home again, and makes love to pressure. Gary Neal, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, et al are solid role players that can win regular season games. We probably just need one or two guys that can win us playoff games. That is entirely possible. We did manage to swap out Richard Jefferson for Stack Jack. Now let’s swap out Matt Bonner for … . ?
Go Spurs Go.
2013 is our year.