The Spurs blew and 18-pt first half lead and lost their fourth straight to the Thunder. There is no doubt that the Thunder are the better team. There is no doubt that the Spurs somehow managed to lose every shred of confidence and composure that they had built up in a 20-game winning streak in these last 4 games.
Gone was the execution and decision-making. Gone is the season.
I watched game 1. I went to game 2. I saw game 3 in a bar with friends and beer. I haven’t seen a minute of game 4. I watched most of the fourth quarter of game 5. Finally, with life almost returning to normal, I watched all of game 6. I’m not sure what happened between games 2 and 6, but the Spurs were a completely different team by the end.
No depth. No confidence. No patience. No believe in teammates. No discipline. It’s an awful thing to watch in your team. Especially after they have spent all season proving to you that they have exactly those qualities.
Pop often says that basketball is a game of mistakes and the Spurs ended with lots of mistakes. I thought Tony Parker made a series of mistakes that were quite big in that they helped turn the momentum away from the Spurs when they built their big lead. They also are, I believe, the types of plays that you can’t make and also win big games.
During the first half, with the Spurs rolling, Tony got sloppy. Or lazy. Or lost focus. Whatever you want to call it, he made a couple mistakes. Transitioning back on defense, he lost track of his man James Harden and gave up a wide open 3-pt shot. It was one of those things where he knew it as soon as the pass was made. He was caught flat-footed. On the next possession (I think), he made a lazy behind the back bounce pass to Tim’s knee. It led to (yet) another Thunder breakout. He also forced up a really bad layup attempt against Westbrook on the break when they had numbers that led to a easy fast break layup for the Thunder.
In the second half, he twice took 3-pt shots early in the shot clock when he had other options. He failed to box out on a Thunder shot and was surprised when the ball came to him (he got the rebound by default). He got caught on a back door cut by Westbrook late in the game and gave up the and-1 opportunity. He then compounded the error by not running in to block out on the free throw and allowed Westbrook to get his own miss.
When your best player, and Tony was our best player last night, is making those kinds of mistakes, then it sets a really bad example for the rest of the team.
So does Pop yanking Tiago after one possession for a missed rotation. It can’t have been the only rotation they missed Wednesday night. Missed rotations. Slapping and reaching at the ball. They were all going on all night.
Heading down the final stretch of game 6, the Spurs were undone by their own mistakes as much as they were by the Thunder’s shot making. It’s impossible to overcome both.
I thought the refs were poor last night. And it’s no surprise when they have two of the poorest refs on the floor. Bill Kennedy and Rodney Mott were terrible and they are always terrible. Outside of two calls — the Stephen Jackson technical and an away from the ball block on Gary Neal — I thought Joey Crawford was very good. Kennedy and Mott were just brutal. Both of Manu’s offensive fouls, Tim’s offensive foul, Jack’s offensive foul on the Harden flop, the foul by Kawhi that sent Westbrook to the line (Mott originally called the foul on the block out of Ibaka I’m pretty sure. He definitely called the foul on Kawhi who was nowhere near Westbrook), and more. My notes from the first half are “Rodney Mott sucks”. And that’s from when things were going the Spurs way.
Every call down the stretch went against the Spurs. Every block-charge. Every flop called and not called. Every illegal screen called and not called.
Here’s a fun fact for you. Kevin Durant didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter. But, the refs gave him a call every single time the Spurs touched him. Holding on the post-up, foul on the rip, shooting foul on Kawhi when Durant jumped into him. On the whole, I don’t think they were bad calls. It’s just that they weren’t making the same calls on the other end. And the game was definitely called different from the first half to the second half. Gary Neal’s away from the ball foul on Fisher that I referenced earlier, wasn’t called on the Thunder the entire second half.
What a frustrating way to end a game and a season. A long series of mental mistakes, missed shots, and poor calls. It’s quite depressing.