Wayne and I were exchanging late night texts, because neither of us could sleep. And our conclusion was the same: we have no idea what’s going to happen Tuesday night. All scenarios are on the table and believable. Blowout win by 20 for either team? Sure. Close game, down to a final shot. Absolutely. LeBron has a 20-20-20 game? Ok. Or he doesn’t show up at all? Yeah. Timmy goes retro and posts a 20-15-5-5? Yes. All are possible and believable. I wrote yesterday that this series was a book of short stories rather than a novel. The one constant? Danny Green shooting the ball. I don’t know if he should be the MVP if the Spurs win this series, but I do know what we’ve seen here has been amazing.
Just wanted to post something today before Game 5, since real life kept me from doing much since the end of that awful Game 4. I’m hoping for a better result tonight, obviously, but I’d be lying if I said I was supremely confident. So, to lay out the arguments in my brain, we’re going pro & con style on why the Spurs will / won’t win tonight’s pivotal Game 5:
(Note: I wrote this last night right after Game 3. I was sleepy, ecstatic, hopped up on caffeine, and a bit delirious. I was so out of it, I couldn’t get my computer to boot to put it on the site. Adjust your expectations accordingly.)
The last 7:34 of this game was a clear message to the starting five (plus a few of the normal bench rotation guys) and the title of this post is it. If you saw the postgame press conference, you realized what I did: that’s as angry as I’ve ever seen Pop after a game. I don’t get to see him postgame every night, but clearly this was a performance he was not happy about.
I’ll confess to still being a little bit in shock today. It’s like when you wish for something so hard for Christmas and finally get it and you stand there in shock, not believing what you see. So now, I’m stuck feeling like I did after Game 1 of the Grizzlies series: can the Spurs win the series playing like they are playing now, without a lot of adjustments? I thought after Game 1 of that series, that the matchups of the Grizz were exposed and the Spurs found a formula that would work for them. I feel the same way now. The Spurs missed a ton of shots and have a formula that can defend the Heat (until they try to adjust) but I also trust the counter-adjustment that Pop will make (more on that below). I think they are winning this series and I don’t think it’s going 7.
This was a weird Finals experience for me. The past four, I have been supremely confident that the Spurs would win. The only one that I even felt remotely unsure about was Detroit in 2005 and even then, the Spurs had home court. This series, I had no idea what to expect. I believed that the Spurs could win this series and I believed that Game 1 was the game to steal. I didn’t know anything, but I believed it. But what I saw tonight surprised even my belief. Here’s some quick bullet points about tonight’s game:
Elation. That’s the only word that comes to mind. After 6 years of close calls, bum injuries, terrible play, and mismatched teammates, the Spurs are returning for an opportunity to win a 5th title. There’s a ton of time (10 days! 10!) to hash, rehash, and talk about this game, this series, and the series to come, but I wanted to put a few things to “blog” before crashing into a blissful sleep.
I remember the exact moment when I told the guys with whom I was watching that the Spurs were going to win it: 4:53 left in the 1st quarter. Duncan had just committed his 2nd turnover of the quarter, then blocked Tony Allen’s shot on the other end. Allen recovered the ball and passed to Tayshaun Prince, who hit a jumper to push the lead to 16-5 Grizz. Pop called a :20 and 5 new guys came into the game. All 5 starters went to the bench to think about what they’d done, including Kawhi and Tiago, who had not really played badly. But, when you are Pop and you want to make a point, you make it big and loud and clear. That was when I knew the Spurs were winning this game.
We’ve got three days to analyze the heck out of the first two games in this series, which all of us will. But the most important thing is this: 2 wins. Amidst all of the craziness, all of the runs, all of the comebacks, and all of the free throws, that’s all that really matters at this point. A few points before we all try and go to sleep at some point tonight.
I don’t think it’s far-fetched to call today’s lopsided victory over the Grizz a “shocking” result. Yes, the Spurs did what they did for much of the regular season: play very solid defense, move the ball from side to side, penetrate the lane with drivers, and take and make a lot of threes. But to do those things with such a high rate of success against a vaunted Grizzlies defense in a game where the Grizz had an extra day off and more time to prepare (and a notoriously Spur-killing Sunday afternoon start)? Simply shocking. Continue Reading…