Ignore the first half. If, before this game, I told you the Spurs would win by 9 over the Thunder with no Manu, no SJax, no RJ, only 3 minutes of Splitter and an 8-man rotation, you’d have taken it in a heartbeat. So, don’t much focus on the blown 20-point lead. Focus on a win against the top team in the West, on the road, shorthanded.
All of that said, they expended a lot of energy tonight to hold onto this win and I don’t feel great about our chances in Dallas tomorrow. I’m hoping that Stephen Jackson, who tweeted he will play in Dallas, and the return of Manu will give the team an energy boost.
Song of the Game:
I used a Black Moth Super Rainbow song as Song of the Game a few weeks ago, so I’m dipping in the same pool tonight. The band’s lead singer, who goes by Tobacco, has done a number of solo projects, the best of which is 2010’s Maniac Meat. Tobacco does an industrial/electronica mix that just rocks. “Stretch Your Face” is the song from this album that got a lot of attention, but I recommend all of it. It will get you in the mood for a basketball game.
Play of the Game:
Kawhi Leonard was the most aggressive offensively I have ever seen him tonight. He was confident on his treys and on several occasions, he actively put the ball on the floor to drive. In the first half, Danny Green was pushing the ball down the floor and found Kawhi in the left corner. James Harden tried to close out on him and Kawhi gave a slight ball fake and drove baseline. Ibaka tried to meet him at the rim to block his shot, but Kawhi threw the ball down and got Ibaka on his poster. This play and this game are a testament to how far Kawhi has come since the beginning of the season. Oh, and by the way, Leonard played really great defense against Durant and Harden.
DeJuan Blair obviously played a really big game tonight which had to happen if the Spurs wanted to win a game so shorthanded. Wayne tweeted during the game that DeJuan is the “uber garbage man” and that’s about as accurate of a description of him as there is.
Danny Green hit big shots in the 4th quarter, played pretty solid defense on Westbrook, and came up with the steal/dunk that iced it. His best game in several weeks.
I know the numbers won’t back me up, but I thought Tony looked really tired until the end of the game, when he started to take over. He just did not have the energy that he played with against Orlando.
Stat of the Game:
Tim and DeJuan owned the glass tonight. Between the two: 30 boards (10 offensive). They were essentially the only bigs tonight, since Splitter did not return. I have to think Tiago was in pretty bad shape to not be able to play in this game.
I understand why everyone is enamored with OKC. They are an incredibly talented team. But I thought the end of this game showed a lot about why the Spurs have a legitimate shot at beating them if they meet in the playoffs. The default play for the Thunder is a Westbrook or Durant isolation jumper, while late in the game, the Spurs were still running their offense. If you can keep them off the glass, make life difficult for Durant to get wide open looks, and make Westbrook a jump shooter, you have a chance to beat them. The Spurs, with all of the pieces in play, are constructed in a way that they can win a series with OKC. Not sure who else in the West is.