On the way to an undefeated postseason and widespread accolades as the greatest team in NBA history, The 2012 Spurs ran into a speed bump named the Oklahoma City Thunder. Seriously, though, sarcasm aside, I – and a lot of other people – expected this to be easier. And looking back, I’m not sure why. These were the two best teams in the league by the end of regular season and OKC has been a tremendous home team the last two years. So, before we all get crazy, let’s step back from the ledge and assess the situation.
The Spurs are now tied in the series. Tied. Not down. And if it goes seven, the last game is in SA, where the Spurs have been nearly unbeatable all season long. Yes, OKC has made great adjustments; it’s a long series and that’s to be expected. Scott Brooks is finally starting to show what Sam Presti has seen in him – that he can make strategic adjustments and adapt his style over a series. And there’s no question they are talented. But to win this series, they have to win a game in San Antonio. So, we’ll see if that’s really doable or not, beginning Monday night.
Song of the Game: Fun., “We Are Young”
This album was recommended to me by several people that I thought were my friends. Now I’m not so sure. Not because it’s bad, because it’s actually solid pop. But because it’s so catchy that it gets in your head and eventually causes permanent damage. Fun. sounds like Queen and ELO mixed in a blender with Foster the People.
I chose this song primarily because I thought Game 4 was where the youth of the Thunder finally showed up as an advantage. The Spurs made a furious rally in the late 3rd / early 4th to get the game within striking distance, but did not have the legs to close the gap.
Play of the Game: KD’s Shooting
Not so much a play, but what Durant did in the 4th quarter of this game was amazing and frightening and beautiful to behold. He simply could not miss. It didn’t matter who defended him, how well he was defended, or if there was help. He simply rose up and shot. Some were open, but most were well-covered, difficult shots that he simply did not miss. This is the Kevin Durant we’ve all been waiting to see. I just wish it had not been against the Spurs. Or this year. Or in my viewing.
Trending Up: Thunder Bigs, DeJuan, Capt. Jack
I know they showed the stat a million times on the telecast, but it bears repeating here, because it is THE reason OKC won this game. Ibaka, Perkins, and Collison were 22-25 from the floor. And many of those shots were mid-range jumpers. 17 of the 25 attempts were in the first half, so if those shots hit at an average rate, the Spurs are either tied or leading at half time, instead of down 11.
Ok, uncle. I have been shaking my head at all of the “Free DeJuan” people during the last two games, but I think I may have come around. I don’t understand it, but I think it’s time for him to absorb at least Bonner’s minutes and maybe some of Tiago’s as well. It makes no sense – there’s not one matchup that he should be effective in this game, and yet he was one of only 3 Spurs with a positive +/- rating in this game (Green and SJax being the other two). I’m not saying he should start, but in front of home crowd for Game 5 might be a place he can be effective with the 2nd unit.
Say what you want about Stephen Jackson – and lots of people do – the man is 100% heart. I’m so glad he’s here.
Trending Down: Tony
I thought Tony played pretty poorly for most of this game. Yes, they are attacking him with taller, longer defenders and he still is trying to get to the basket, but it just isn’t working like it was in Games 1 and 2. On top of that, he has really lost his rhythm on the midrange jumper. I think he’ll bounce in Game 5, but it’s clear the change in defensive strategy has had an effect on him.
Stat of the Game: Tied Up
The Spurs are now 1-1 with the Thunder on “should have won” games. The Spurs won in Game 1 despite being outscored in the paint, outrebounded, and outrun in transition points. In Game 4, the Spurs won in the paint, won the rebound battle, and held the Thunder to 9 fast break points (but only scored 3 themselves). Like the Spurs in Game 1, OKC won because they shot an ungodly percentage: 56% for the game. So, if you are asking me which is more replicable, I’ll take the Spurs in Game 1 over OKC in Game 4, because the Spurs have proven their role players can shoot consistently over the course of this season.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve hated watching the Spurs lose these 2 games. But, my goodness, this is a fun series. This is everything a basketball fan could enjoy: well-played games, athleticism, shot-making, occasional defense, and X-and-O strategy for days. I’m already ready for Game 5.