Tag Archives: San Antonio Spurs

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs eliminate Heat to win 5th title in franchise history


It’s said that to truly enjoy a certain achievement or title, one must first learn to lose. To lose means that it’s going to make that final victory that much sweeter. Interesting that it’s topic for the San Antonio because this is a franchise with plenty of history that involves winning and when it comes down to it, the Spurs are the staple franchise in the NBA. Sure, they’re in one of the smaller markets and not the big, flashy destination for free agents but that doesn’t matter. The Spurs win in a more traditional way, sort of the way a team is “supposed” to win. But since the 2007 sweep of the Cavaliers, the Spurs had not tasted ultimate success. They were always around as a perennial contender but that final step was lacking. No more. The Spurs are once again NBA champions, finishing off the Heat last night (4-1) to capture their fifth title. Kawhi Leonard, who is only 22 years old, was named the Finals MVP and is the youngest to do so since, guess who? That’s right, his teammate Tim Duncan was about the same age when the Spurs won their first title back in ’99. Speaking of Tim Duncan, he’s the only player in history to win a championship in three (3!) different decades. Incredible to think that it’s been a 15 year gap since the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan duo won their five titles. Will we ever see that again? I’d find it VERY hard to believe but who knows, maybe Leonard does it again? Anyways, all the Spurs players deserve praise. Because as we’ve known for years and years, it’s not about the individual player achievements for them. They continued to stress team play and team efficiency. And it’s what we saw last night as the Spurs absorbed the Heat’s best shot in the 1st quarter and then went on to dominate the game.

Just about the only thing that LeBron James could do was say “man, screw this, i’m winning this” and for a while, it looked like LeBron was going to score 70 points in the game to keep Miami alive. 17 in the first quarter but even the best player on the planet isn’t a match for the best team on the planet. Miami controlled the first quarter but fizzled away quickly after that. The difference was, and has been, in the supporting cast. Since the beginning of the series, Kawhi Leonard played much, much better but so did the less-known players on San Antonio. Where was the Heat’s lesser known staff? You know what, not just the lesser known staff. How about the non-LeBron players? LeBron (31 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast) but no one else contributed meaningful minutes. Not even the other “big 3” players Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. What now for them? They made history by reaching four straight finals but because they didn’t hoist the trophy, it’s labeled as a failure. LeBron didn’t answer questions about his offseason but at the very least, we’re having discussions about whether or not he’s going to stay or opt out of his contract. The Heat’s biggest weapon during their two-year dominance was their ability to step their game up to a level that no other team could reach. This year it didn’t happen and it’s unknown if they can even do it again with this cast. We’ll just have to wait and see. Hey, at least this video is funny again! Enough about the Heat.

This season was and will be known as the Spurs’ season. The redemption happened, and after such a heartbreaking loss last year, it’s all good. Take it from a lifelong Mavericks fan. The demons from ’06/’07 were still with Dirk and the franchise until 2011, when the final winner was Dallas and all was forgotten. The same goes for San Antonio, who tasted the sweetest of victories last night exactly one season later. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (four titles each now) all claimed that this is the title that feels the best. Not because they took down the league’s biggest foe, but for themselves and for the franchise and for their fans and for the city of San Antonio. The one thing that surprised me the most was how much better, for most of the series, the Spurs looked. When you take a closer look at the series, it mirrors the postseason in one neat package. Just like the opening rounds of the playoffs, the first two games of the Finals were chaotic and unpredictable. Either team could’ve taken the opening games. But as the series went on, order was restored; much like the playoffs after the first two rounds. The team that “deserved” to win, did in fact win. It’s a rare thing to see in sports. The “good guys” coming out on top. Last night was a win a team basketball and even if you’re a disgruntled Heat fan right now, one has to appreciate what the Spurs did to the fullest. The Spurs are the kings of basketball and we should all take a moment to appreciate how they did it.

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs take commanding lead


For the first time in the NBA Finals, one team has looked completely dominant over the other for an entire game. The Spurs were masterful against Miami last night, dominating early and often to put themselves only one victory away from once again, capturing basketball glory. I can’t stress how much better, free and clear, the Spurs were than the Heat during most of the last night’s game. Is it too much to say that Miami looked slightly like the the 2007 Cavs? Only in the sense that LeBron James was doing everything possible (mostly in the 3rd) to get his team back into the game, only to be answered by more excellent basketball by San Antonio. Remember game 4, when the Spurs were scorching hot from the field? Well, i’d argue that they played even better than that last night. Their shooting wasn’t as great from a pure statistical point of view, but they played more effectively as they created better looks, spaced the floor at their will and had the entire squad in sync. Did anyone else realize that the Heat’s only lead of the night was at 2-0? From that point on, it was all Spurs. Kawhi Leonard continues to make leaps and bounds in his young career. The Spurs forward once again was the best player on the court last night, showing what he can do on the court while continuing to keep his stoic, professional demeanor off the court. Even as a Mavs fan, it’s hard to dislike the guy. And while I don’t want to discredit anything that Leonard did last night, the #1 reason the Spurs were so much better is an obvious one: all-around team basketball. Since the start of the series, Gregg Popovich has maintained the same philosophy and in the last two games it’s clear that Miami has no answer. It was also a record night for Tim Duncan but everyone on the Spurs deserves just as much credit for reaching such a high level last night. Can the Heat find some way to stay alive?

There have to be some pretty drastic changes in Miami’s performance for me, and anyone else, to believe that they’re going to make this a series. The record for teams down 1-3 in the NBA Finals spell absolute doom for LeBron and co. The biggest reason for Miami’s demise? Their supporting cast. While the Spurs supporting cast has gotten better as the series matures, the Heat’s non-existent “non-Big 3” players have continued to disappear more and more. And I don’t want to hear any of this fatigue nonsense. Yes, I brought up the point nearly a month ago about Miami’s grueling four year stretch but it’s not like San Antonio has been sitting on their couches for that same period. Only the 2011 postseason was a short one for them but for the past three seasons, the Spurs have played nearly as many games as the Heat. Sure, Dwyane Wade’s older now but i’m sure Duncan and Manu Ginobili would love to hear just how “old” Wade (10 pts last night) and knees feel right now. The excuses can keep mounting for Miami but the simply response is that the Spurs have outworked, outsmarted and ultimately, outplayed the Heat in pretty much every aspect of the game. I’ve never been big on numbers but even if Miami were to somehow climb back into this series, nothing from last night indicated that they will do so. Maybe if they showed some competitive fire. Maybe if a massive LeBron, Wade AND Bosh game happens. Maybe if the Spurs decide that they want to win on the road instead in front of their home crowd. It’s going to take some extreme circumstances for this series to go back to Miami and I don’t see it happening. The Spurs have been on a mission since their heart-breaking loss to the Heat in last year’s Finals and finally, after such a long journey, they have the chance to redeem themselves. Some might call it destiny or fate but i’d like to call it the will of champions. There’s is no reason to doubt that the Spurs will once again don the word “champions” after Sunday night’s (8pm ET on ABC) game ends.

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs bounce back in big way

NBA: Finals-San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

It’s rare to hear him speak much. And if one does happen to hear him speak, it’s only the minimum and don’t hold your breath on hoping for some headline-stealing quote. That’s just the way of Kawhi Leonard. Known for his massive hands, his “silent assassin” style of play and his potential of one day being among the league’s best players. In the first two games of the series, we had seen little of Leonard and many were wondering if last year’s Finals performance was more of a fluke. Enter last night: who knows what exactly triggered Leonard’s (29 pts, 4 reb) big night. I’m sure it was a combination of coach Poppovich’s pulling him to to side, saying “we need you” combined with encouragement from his teammates and finally, Kawhi’s personal want to just be better. Although it doesn’t hurt when his team shoots like they did. San Antonio’s scorching-hot shooting led the way last night, putting them in the lead early and the Heat were never able to recover, resulting in a big Spurs win for a 2-1 series lead. It’s crazy to think that before the game started, all of the pressure was on the Spurs and whether or not they would be back to take back home court advantage. Remember, before last night’s game, Miami had yet to lose at home in this postseason. That’s partly because of how mediocre their competition had been but mostly due to the fact that the Heat are a really good team. Which is what makes the Spurs victory by such a large margin so surprising. I know, San Antonio isn’t going to score over 70 points in one half again in this series and they’re certainly not going to 76% (76!) from the field for an entire half. Miami managed to chip away at the lead, getting to within 7 points during a stretch in the 3rd quarter but the Spurs responded nicely. Credit to the Spurs defense in stepping it up when the pressure was on. Leonard, having his best game in postseason history, played excellent defense on LeBron James as he forced #6 on the Heat into tough situations and seven turnovers. Because the Spurs have a way to neutralize LeBron (somewhat), it makes them that much more dangerous heading forward.

How does the series move on from last night’s game? I said it before and I still feel the same way. The Heat will respond, just as they did in game 2 but will they be able to look as impressive as the Spurs did last night? I didn’t expect either of these teams to win by a large and I don’t expect Miami to duplicate San Antonio’s performance. What I do expect is better overall play. What’s going on with Mario Chalmers? He’s usually sneaky effective but so far in this series, he’s been blatantly ineffective. Should Miami just run the point through LeBron, Wade or even Ray Allen? Just like the Spurs did last night, what kind of adjustments will the Heat make for tomorrow night’s game? Who, aside from Miami’s big 3, step their game up and make an impact? It can’t just be LeBron James, Dwyane Wade with a side of Rashard Lewis for Miami. Let’s see Chris Bosh get some more touches in the paint. I know it’s easier said than done but if Bosh can get going, it really opens things up on offense for the Heat. Now we’re going to see the pressure shift to the Heat’s side of the floor and we’re going to watch San Antonio play with a chance to take complete control of the series. Momentum isn’t a word that hangs heavily over the series but after their performance last night, the Spurs have about as much momentum as we’re going to see between these two teams. I predicted that the series would go the distance and while i’m as confident as I was before last night’s game, I still feel that we’re going to head back to San Antonio with the series tied and massive 5th game looming. I’m ready for action and the drama to unfold because as the series matures and the stakes get higher, the potential for more must-watch basketball increases.

2014 NBA Finals: Heat bounce back and even series up


So much for the LeBron “cramp” jokes, right? Well, at least now we get the “finally took his Midol” or similar style jokes. Miami bounced back in impressive fashion, led by LeBron’s performance, as they win in San Antonio to steal home court and even up the Finals at 1 victory for each team. What was most impressive about the Heat last night? The obvious choice goes to LeBron (35 pts, 10 reb) during his second-half onslaught, who looked like a hybrid of MJ and Kobe for various stretches, hitting shots that ranged from very tough to damn near impossible. I still think we’re going to look at his performance against the Celtics from two years ago or even the one against the Pistons as his all-time greatest playoff performance but during last night’s game, he was even greater than those two nights. After much scrutiny following game 1’s ending, #6 on the Heat wasn’t impressive out of the gate. James’ performance was very pedestrian in the first half but after halftime, something changed and the best basketball player on the planet played like it. But let’s remember that while LeBron’s brilliance will steal the headlines, the players around him stepped it up big time last night. From Wade to Bosh to Birdman and so on. Team basketball was critical and last night, the Heat were just a bit better than San Antonio. What worked best for Miami, aside from LeBron? Their defense during crunch time. Miami’s ability to pressure the Spurs offense into playing Heat-style basketball was the biggest factor down the stretch. Tony Parker was limited in play-making down the stretch because LeBron was guarding him and the rest of the San Antonio cast wasn’t able to produce efficient offense when it needed it the most. It also doesn’t help the Spurs when, a very critical point in the game, something like a four missed free throws in a row happens. But like Miami, I expect San Antonio to bounce back tomorrow night.

Can the Spurs re-steal home court advantage? It’s impossible to predict anything in this series. If I had one bold prediction to make about this series it’s that we’re just going to see both teams trading blows. One after the other, just like a premier heavyweight title bout. Because these teams are so good, it’s very hard to imagine either of them winning two games in a row. The players and the coaching are at too high of a level for either team to gain a distinct advantage. So the only advantage left is LeBron James and last night proved just that. Can he continue to carry the Heat? Or are we going to see San Antonio force Miami into their style? Those are just a few reason why this series could be an all-time great Finals clash. The adjustments, the big plays, the critical moments, the questionable calls and finally, the potential for another arena malfunction. The story lines are endless but unfortunately for us, the series has to end at some point. All we hope for is that, as they have done so far, both teams leave it all out on the court. But is it a bit too much to ask for another game 7? The people of Miami and San Antonio certainly hope that their respective team finishes the series sooner than that. We’re getting at least a 5th game but this series feels like it almost has to go at least 6 games. It’s too good for quick and quiet ending. It’s been great early and things look like they’re going up from here. The drama continues tomorrow night (9 ET on ABC) so stayed tuned.

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs strike first

NBA: Finals-Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Where does one begin to discuss last night’s game between the Spurs and Heat? Emphasis on the word heat, of course. Do we talk about a semi-sloppy, but entertaining first half that consisted of several lead changes? There’s no doubt that the Heat “heat” jokes are in full swing right now, so i’ll spare everyone that forced laughter. But when I think about it, there’s no doubt that it was the biggest x-factor from last night’s game. LeBron cramp jokes aside, I didn’t think something like a broken AC system would be such a big factor in last night’s game. Did anyone? More than bench production, spacing or the health of Tony Parker. Nope, it all came down to the fact that because of a hot and humid atmosphere, LeBron James couldn’t play during crunch time and the Spurs took advantage of the situation, turning the game into a lopsided win. The Spurs were dealing with the same conditions and were able to avoid setbacks, enabling them to finish the game nicely, with a barrage of 3-pointers that put the game out of reach. It’s actually a shame that something “silly” like cramps kept LeBron out of the game. I’ve dealt with cramps when playing sports and while they’re no joke, I think LeBron can handle everyone making fun of his for it. It’s just an unorthodox reason to miss the final minutes. Up to that point of the game, it was a complete toss up for either team. Yes, the game was a bit sloppy (41 total turnovers) but despite the uncanny turnovers by both teams, last night’s game was more or less what we expected from these teams. Match up problems were clear for both teams but like any great team does, they were able to make adjustments and better their situation. I enjoyed how well both teams played; from Tim Duncan’s paint control (almost getting a triple-double) to Chris Bosh’s effective shooting night, it was overall a very enjoyable game.

Much like this past Super Bowl between the Broncos and Seahawks, it’s obvious that the Heat and Spurs are the two teams that belong here. But unlike the Super Bowl, this series will be competitive. Miami, for many stretches of the game, looked like the better team. The biggest concern that i’d have if I were a Heat fan is, first of all, will the Spurs fix their AC system. Second, i’m hoping that the starting five can continue to carry the lead. Because of the Spurs big line up, the Heat started Rashard Lewis at PF and while the stats don’t stick out, Lewis did a nice job with the heavy minutes. Ray Allen was the only player that did well (circa early-2000s) off the bench and it’s worrisome heading forward. What do the Spurs need to do if they want to get a good grip in the series? Well, the obvious answer is to limit their turnovers. Luckily for San Antonio, the Heat were just as careless with the ball. The Spurs just need to keep playing their style and force the Heat to keep their big line up on the floor. In typical Spurs fashion, they controlled the paint, out-rebounding the Heat by 10. Couple that with their effective shooting from beyond-the-arc (52%) and San Antonio is going to be very, very difficult to beat over a 7-game series. Do I expect Miami to bounce back and tie the series? It’s tough to say. As I stated before the series began, every game is going to be impossible to predict and last night’s game epitomized that. If LeBron is in the game during crunch time, do the Heat come out on top? It’s one of the many questions that I expect will arise as the series develops. For those reasons alone, there’s a feeling that we’re in store for an all-time classic NBA Finals.

Previewing the 2014 NBA Finals

2013 NBA Finals - Game Three

Anyone else really excited for round two of Spurs-Heat? Normally it doesn’t matter, but this feels like the right Finals match up. The NBA season had plenty of headlines throughout the season but which teams were under the radar for most of the season? That’s right, the two teams that are left standing. The Heat, surprisingly enough, weren’t discussed as much as they have been for the past three seasons. The spotlight was on the Pacers, Knicks, Nets and generally how terrible the eastern conference was. Miami was dealing with injuries and generally had a quiet season, for their standards. And well, for the Spurs, it’s just another typical regular season for them. Top seeded in a brutal western conference but receiving the least attention of all the contenders. Even though, from the start of the season, San Antonio should’ve been the team everyone was was talking about. But like i’ve stated in the past, NBA circles tend to talk more about how the Spurs aren’t talked about rather than actually discussing Spurs basketball. There isn’t a need to remind these teams though, they’re focused on the prize that’s at hand.

The Stakes: Is there any reason to stress how massive and monumental this year’s NBA Finals are? After last year’s thrilling 7-game series between these two teams, it’s no wonder people are excited to see what’s going to happen one year later. The biggest difference between this year and last? Not a whole lot in terms of personnel but San Antonio’s home court advantage, teamed with the 2-2-1-1-1 format is a huge shift for the series. The Spurs have looked nearly immortal at home this postseason and their home crowd will continue to play a huge part in their success. Especially early on, where the Spurs have been able to jump on opponents for an early series lead. Can San Antonio achieve their fifth title in franchise history? They’ll be within one of the Bulls. The only difference is that the Spurs will have been able to do it throughout a 15 year gap. And a 7 year gap since their last title. Impressive for the likes for Gregg Poppovich (among all-time best) and Tim Duncan (GOAT power forward) as they ink their legacy into the basketball record books. What about Miami? Well, they’ve already joined some elite company just by making it this far in four straight years. Now it’s time to see if the infamous Heat squad can make it a three-peat. Hasn’t been done since the Lakers of the early-2000s and it’s something that engraves their name into basketball royalty. Does Miami have enough left in the tank to lift the trophy?

X-Factors: As it is with any other championship level game/series, any little thing can be considered an x-factor to some degree and the same holds true for Spurs-Heat. Let’s start with San Antonio. I’ve considered only two things that are REALLY going to affect how successful or unsuccessful these Finals will be for them. The first is their shooting from beyond-the-arc. I know, great find, right? But in all of the series, the Spurs 3-point shooting have been the difference between blowing a team out and squeaking out a win or losing the game. The second, and biggest factor for the Spurs is the health of Tony Parker. Before last year’s series, Parker was dealing with ankle issues and this year it seems to be hamstring issues. The San Antonio PG is a huge match up problem for Miami and his level play dictates how the Spurs go. Now, for the Heat, it’s a bit tougher to figure out. Can the Heat turn up the defense to another level as they have in the playoffs so far? Miami hasn’t faced a team that’s the level of the Spurs so far. I’m looking at the Miami bench to make a difference in this series. The Spurs are a very deep team but can the Heat counter with effective play from their own bench? What happens when the “big 3” aren’t very big for Miami? Someone on the bench needs to step it up and make a difference.

Prediction: Even now, as i’m writing this out, i’m still having a hard time trying to predict what’s going to happen between these two teams. In all honesty, i’m just excited to watch the series as we watch these two teams compete at the highest of level. Let’s just hope for excellent, competitive basketball, right? That’s the weak and typical answer. On one hand we have Miami, who have the best player in the world and have also had the easier road to get here. They’re the two-time defending champions with pretty much the same team. To some degree. But I can’t help but shake the fact that the Spurs were SO close to winning the title last year and they’re a better team this year. While Miami has regressed. Even if it worries me to go against LeBron James, I just feel that the Spurs are the better team. The playoffs have had a chaotic start but as teams were eliminated, more and more order was restored. And there’s no bigger indicator of order than the San Antonio Spurs. Spurs in 7.

Recapping the weekend's action in the NBA playoffs


As the NBA Playoffs have gotten to the later stages, order has been restored. After a couple of chaotic first rounds we’re starting to see that the favorites are here once again, ready to battle in another, hopefully, great series. Both the Heat and Spurs were facing a bit of questions, not quite convincing the basketball world that they were destined to meet again in the Finals. But after this weekend’s games, here we are again. Miami was a bit more effective in eliminating their foe but that doesn’t diminish San Antonio’s success because they did it in the same amount of games. And unless you’re from Oklahoma City or Indiana, how can you not be excited about this weekend’s results? As a Mavs fan, I have disdain for Miami (stemming from 2006) and the Spurs (lifetime membership) but i’m very excited to see this rematch from last year’s Finals. Have the Heat looked more vulnerable than they have throughout this season’s playoffs? Is there a more fitting team than the Spurs to stop Miami from being a historic-level team in NBA history? The Finals are still a few days away (get going Thursday night) so I’ll get to previewing it more in depth. First it’s time to see how both teams got to this point.

As it has been throughout the playoffs, the easier road was out east. Miami looked as confident as it has so far in the playoffs, eliminating the Pacers in dominant fashion and finishing the eastern conference final in 6 games to move on to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year. As we’re being reminded over and over, with that game 6 victory, this Heat team joins some pretty elite company. Yes, we know that Jordan’s Bulls never achieved four straight Finals and we know that it hasn’t been done since the days of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. In fact, this is only the fourth time that it’s ever been done. Crazy to think that we’re watching history being made because despite their dominant win over Indiana, the Heat look about as fragile as we’ve seen them be during this season’s postseason run. The Pacers put up a decent fight during game 6. At least for one quarter they did. After that, it was only a matter of when Miami wanted to take over the game and turn it into a rout. LeBron James was great, shooting well but was not needed for the 4th quarter as the game was out of reach and planning for their opponent from the west had begun. The Heat have plenty to work on as they prepare for the Finals but for their fans, it’s nice to see them be so convincing. Even if it was just for one game. What now for the Pacers? This was the team that was supposed to be built to beat Miami. And it’s not like they have an array of moves that they can go to. Something has to happen with this team because being a constant 2nd place team in the east isn’t going to cut. I’m ok with teams playing with an attitude and an edge but only if you back up your talk with your walk. Up to this point, the Pacers have been more bark than bite and the franchise needs a little bit more if they hope one day knock Miami off their thrones. Luckily for them, most of their team is still young so there’s time. But it needs to happen sooner than later.

Things weren’t as easy for the Spurs but nonetheless, they are headed back to Finals for another year and have revenge on their minds. Here’s a surprising stat: this is the first time in Spurs history that they’ve ever been to the Finals in consecutive years. Didn’t see that one coming. San Antonio wins the western conference once again, eliminating the Thunder in 6 games after a nail-biting finish in Oklahoma City that needed overtime so it could be settled. Great game with an even greater finish. For the Spurs, Tim Duncan led the way while Kawhi Leonard earns the belt for highlight plays of the game. The history of the Spurs combines with the future, as they journey towards the ultimate goal for at least one more time. It’s almost a representation of the state that the Spurs are in. 15 years after their first title, it’s still coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan leading the way. How is that even possible? Saturday night’s game proved a couple of things. The Spurs are, by far, the deepest team in the league and that Popovich is clearly the best coach in the league. Think about it, Tony Parker is absent due to injury for the entire second half and the Spurs still clinch the game, and the series. As the game wore on, it had the feeling that we were going to need a 7th game but enter some big shots by the Spurs supporting cast and a couple of miscues by the Thunder. OKC played well for most of the game but as we’ve seen in the past, their offensive rhythm still lacks when it matters most. It’s essentially Durant or Westbrook (whoever decides to bring the ball up) saying “get out of the way” and going from there. What now for the Thunder? They always seem to be just a little bit short when faced with their biggest obstacle. Durant has the individual hardware but it’s come time to criticize him for not having the team hardware.

Pretty cool video of the NBA’s Basketball Without Border program featuring some funny, but cool throwbacks of big NBA names:

Spurs dominate and win key game over Thunder


Can someone help me figure out this series? Should we just annul tomorrow’s game 6 and stay in San Antonio for a 7th game? So far, the western conference finals have flipped and flopped, the winner of each game is whoever is playing at home. And each time the final buzzer sounds, it’s a large margin of victory; last night was no different. The Spurs bounced back from their two game slide and handled the Thunder in impressive fashion, winning a key game 5 as the series goes back to Oklahoma City. As we’ve heard in the past countless times, the winner of game 5 when a series is tied at 2 games each, usually goes on to win the series. But what’s been hiding a bit better is that most of the time, this occurs in game 6. Can that happen for the Spurs? It might, but first let’s get to last night’s action and figure out how the Spurs were able to turn things around in such a big way. It had to have been more than just the home court advantage, right? Not as much as one would think. I think? It’s still hard for me figure out what’s going on. I feel like it’s mostly adjustments countering with more adjustments. It’s just surprising that OKC has made just as many smart moves as the Spurs have. Last night the Spurs made a brilliant move, going with a smaller line up to neutralize the Thunder’s high-tempo game and challenging them on offense and defense. San Antonio pretty much said “hey, we can play fast too!” and it worked beautifully. Tim Duncan had the big game (22 pts, 12 reb) but it was clear that last night was an old-school Spurs’ type of win, defined by team efforts and key contributions from unexpected sources. Last night it was the likes of Boris Diaw and Danny Green. Did I mention that the Spurs shot 50% (50!) from 3-point land? The young guns of OKC were a bit taken back by the Spurs’ tactics and after the second quarter, San Antonio had built enough momentum to turn the game into a rout. Yes, Oklahoma City has tons of trouble handling the Spurs shooting barrage on defense but their ineffective play on offense is what really hindered them. Ibaka (the Spurs killer) had a solid game on defense but wasn’t able to score like he had in the previous two games. The Thunder started off hot, thanks to their stars Durant and Westbook, but they weren’t able to keep pace, something that they’d controlled but was turned on them last night. Can the Thunder defend their home court and force a game 7? The history of this series says yes. But what this series has shown us is that when we think it’s going to zig, it zags instead. Momentum is all on the Spurs side and I have a feeling that it’s going to stay there. Then again, what neutral fans don’t want to see a game 7? We’ll have to wait and see.

Big game tonight in the eastern conference finals. Wasn’t able to discuss the game yesterday because of a family affair but i’m here to preview it. I’ll be watching this game pretty closely tonight. Partly because i’m running a 5k tomorrow morning and should stay in, but more so because i’m excited to see this game. How will the Heat, and more specifically LeBron, respond at home? King James suffered through Lane Stephenson’s antics and that, combined with foul trouble, kept the league’s best player to a modest performance in game 5. What do I expect? LeBron and Heat to unleash hell on the Pacers. The Pacers love to impose their will and play a style that frustrates the other team, but so far in these playoffs, it’s come back to bite them in the ass. Can Indiana handle the pressure and force the action home for a 7th and deciding game? I don’t see it. Despite limiting LeBron to the worst performance in a long time, Miami was in the game until the final minute. It’s not enough for Indiana to just win the game. They have to impress and show that they’re capable of beating Miami on the road in a big way for anyone to believe that they’re capable of winning not just the series, but the title as well. Heat rout and join some elite teams.

Thunder roll as they even up the Western Conference Finals

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four

It’s incredible to watch how things have turned between the Thunder and Spurs. Just one week ago, I was pretty confident that San Antonio would cruise into the Finals and await whoever came out of the east. Now, it’s Miami how appears to be in cruise control and it’s the Spurs who appear to be knocked back, dumbfounded by what Oklahoma City has done the past two games. The Thunder turned last night’s game into a rout, holding their own at home to even up the series as it heads back to San Antonio. It’s surprising because the Spurs are the best in the league when it comes to adjustments. Did I expect Serg Ibaka’s return to matter THIS much to the Thunder’s success? Not at all. Ibaka is a great player and the best “third banana” in the league but he’s turned this series on it’s head in a matter of 72 hours. OKC’s athleticism sticks out like a sore thumb, a needle in the back of the Spurs that they simply can’t reach. Just look at the fast break points (21 to 0) advantage that the Thunder had last night. OKC turns on the jets and San Antonio can’t keep up, their starting line up much too aged for this young man’s style of game. Where does the physical intensity start and end? Russell Westbrook of course! Westbrook’s historic night (40 pts, 5 reb, 10 ast, 5 stl) led the way for the Thunder last night, dominating from start to finish and imposing his will. More than just their improved defense with Ibaka in the middle, the Thunder are forcing the Spurs to play their style of basketball at both ends of the court. Can the Spurs turn it around? Shades of 2012 can’t help but be discussed. But this is a different team for both sides. I expect San Antonio to respond well now that they’re going to be play at home but it’s clear that the momentum is 100% on the Thunder’s side. OKC thrives on momentum but part of that is because their home crowd is raucous, something that won’t be available in tomorrow night’s game. If I had to bet, i’d say that the Spurs rebound and at the very least, make the game come down to the final minute. I mean, it’s the Spurs…right? I’m not confident about picking them in tomorrow’s game but when they’re under the radar, is when they play best. It’s a three game series and there’s no need to stress how important tomorrow night’s game is for both teams. Should be a good one. Oh yeah, quick shout out to Corey Joseph.

Unfortunately, the eastern conference finals haven’t provided us with as much drama as our friends out west. The eastern conference has fizzled and turned in Miami’s favor more and more as the series has gone on. Can Indiana force another game or will the Heat close things out quickly tonight? All signs point to a quick and effective victory by LeBron and co (8:30 ET on ESPN) in Indiana tonight. The Heat have taken all of the Pacers trash talking and turned it on them, but doing so on the court instead of off. The momentum is heavily on Miami’s side but the Pacers will be playing in front of their home crowd. They owe it to their fans to give it 100% and send this series back to Miami. Will that happen? Probably not. Indiana has shown time and time again that they can’t be trusted this postseason. Sure, they’ve thrived on being the underdog but weren’t they in that position last game? Maybe they’ll prove everyone wrong tonight but the smart money is on Miami.

I’ve always been a fan of Ahmad Rashard’s interviews. Should be another great season.

Spurs rout Thunder and take complete control of the series


Are we going to see some competition during the western conference finals? Through the first two games, the Thunder have managed about three quarters of competitive basketball against San Antonio, most of which didn’t occur last night. The Spurs dominated the Thunder in incredible fashion, taking a 2-0 series lead that appears to be the end of the series. I know, it’s very premature to make that kind of statement. Especially when one considers what happened between these two teams just two years ago. Here’s a refresher: Spurs were up 2-0, all things rolling but the Thunder turn things around in game 3, win four straight games to advance to the finals. Will that happen again? I can’t see it. Back in the 2012 western conference finals, the Thunder were very competitive in the first two games of the series. Right up until the 4th quarter of those games, they had a chance to win. It’s the complete opposite of what’s happening right now. San Antonio didn’t let the Thunder linger long, finishing the first half in an impressive fashion and riding that momentum into the 3rd quarter, turning the game into a lopsided affair. It’s basically what happened in the first game, only this time the Spurs dominated the entire second half and not just the 4th quarter. Tony Parker (22 pts, 5 ast, 2 stl) was the Spurs offensive wheel last night but Danny Green’s hot shooting (7 of 10 from 3-pts) was the biggest catalyst that put the Spurs up by such a large margin. Interesting fact: Green wasn’t able to make the Cavaliers roster just a few years ago and now, he’s an important piece of the best team in the league right now. That’s what happens when you join an organization like the Spurs. Top-notch ownership, front office, coaching and teammates. And last night, the Spurs were running on ALL cylinders. Incredible to watch. The Thunder were certainly watching, benching their starters once the game was out of reach. Once again, the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook questions about chemistry start to pop up again. Listen, teammates are going to yell at each other, especially when they’re getting beat that badly. Oklahoma City needs to have the shortest memory possible heading forward. Only in reviewing last night’s game tape should they be reminded of what happened. Because if they don’t turn things about quickly, the Spurs might start taking out their brooms.

As much as I love the NBA playoffs, it’s nice to have a couple of days off from games to take a break and breathe a bit. On that note, the NBA does a lot to promote it’s global game and encourage children to participate in basketball. Just look at the Spurs. People love to gush about their team and half of them weren’t born in this country. So i’m happy to see Hakeem Olajuwon, a personal favorite of mine, as the NBA’s Ambassador to Africa.

Spurs’ strong 4th quarter pushes them past Thunder for early series lead

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

The consensus is this: when facing an elite team in the NBA, get ready for that team to find your biggest weakness, and get ready for them to take advantage of it. That had to have been in the minds of the Oklahoma City players last night. The Thunder knew that the Spurs are the best at doing just that and last night…well, one couldn’t find a better example. San Antonio controlled the paint and the 4th quarter against the Thunder last night, turning the game into a rout to take an early lead in the western conference finals. Was anyone THAT surprised that the Spurs were going to take advantage of the Ibaka injury like that? From the start of the game, it was evident that San Antonio was going to do pretty much what it wanted in the paint. How big of an advantage was it for the Spurs? 40 points in the paint in the first half and after the final buzzer went off, a 66 to 32 advantage over the Thunder. And it wasn’t just one single player doing the damage. Kawhi Leonard had his spectacular plays in the paint, while Tim Duncan (27 pts, 7 reb) did his methodical, time-reversing work in the paint. It’s still pretty incredible to watch Duncan, almost 40, continuing to show the young guys of the league how it’s done. Same goes for Manu Ginobli, who, teamed with Tony Parker, played about as well as back court this year. But all of this gushing over the Spurs doesn’t mean that it was easy for them for the entire game. The Thunder did a nice job responding to the Spurs. Anytime it seemed like San Antonio was going to turn the game into a rout, there was Durant and Westbrook, making a big shot or throwing down the slam in the paint to keep the Thunder hanging around. They even took the lead for a bit during the 3rd quarter. Oklahoma City does pose a match up problem for the Spurs but it’s going to take more a superhuman effort from their superstars to get wins in this series. Is that possible? Of course. But they need more support from their surrounding players. By the middle of the final quarter, it was evident that the Thunder had run out of gas and the Spurs were there to take full advantage. Still, I like the Spurs but I also like the Thunder to put up a nice fight.

Miami is ready to get even. Both in the series and in every aspect of tonight’s game (8:30 ET ESPN) against the Pacers. After the Pacers’ impressive victory in game 1, how will the Heat respond? I have a feeling that LeBron James and co. will respond well but don’t think for a minute that it’s going to be easy. Indiana showed poise and effort in front of their home crowd during the last game and I don’t expect it to go away. Just remember: this eastern conference finals series is what the Pacers were looking forward to all season. This is their time and their chance to put a rest to the Miami Heat dynasty in the conference. What more motivation than that for Indiana? And what more motivation does Miami need? Every NBA team that has ever won three titles in a row has faced their biggest obstacle in the third year. Miami is tired. Tired because they’ve played so many games these past few years and tired because people are starting to doubt them. Not wanting to face a deadly 0-2 hole, tonight is the Heat’s chance to make this a series. Will they prove that they’re still the favorite to win the conference and, as a result, the title? Or will we see Indiana build off their game 1 performance to take a commanding lead in the series? Miami usually responds well after losing the first game and I expect the trend to continue. My trust for Indiana is still low and it’s hard for me to pick them in this series. Either way, should be an excellent game.

One, quick, last look at the second round’s best plays

Heat and Spurs close out their series, move on to the conference finals

Portland Trail Blazers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five

Can we just go ahead and pencil these two teams into the Finals? Just so i’m on record: right now, I like the Spurs in 6. Anyways, before we start discussing something that’s not going to go down until a couple of more weeks, let’s get to last night’s action. Miami used a huge 4th quarter rally to shut down and overcome the Nets, closing out the game and winning the series in five games to move on to the eastern conference finals for the 4th straight year. It wasn’t easy for Miami last night. They had to rely on a semi-meltdown by Brooklyn to take home the victory. But of course, some credit has to go to Miami. The Heat (LeBron specifically) played excellent defense down the stretch and they (Bosh and Allen) made some big shots to put Miami up for good. When the Nets were up by double digits late in the game, a part of me thought “wow…they’re really going to force a 6th game!” but then the Heat turned it up for a bit. It was evident that, when they want, Miami is another level than Brooklyn. That wasn’t the case for most of the game. Miami struggled to get going and were trailing for most of the second half. Under the radar, it was Dwyane Wade who kept the Heat afloat until the 4th quarter and then it was the rest of the team who stepped it up. I still have some questions/concerns for Miami heading forward but with little competition in their conference, it’d be hard to argue that they’re not going to be in the Finals come June. And for Brooklyn? Well, let’s just say that their big money roster did not live up to the hype and might be labeled as a colossal failure. The thing is, it’s not going to change anytime soon so it might be a bleak future for the Nets.

In the western conference, San Antonio also closed things out in their series with a nice, professional, effective-basketball win. It was a very Spurs-like win. The Spurs controlled the pace of last night’s game against the Blazers, expanding their lead as the game went on and closing out the series quickly and efficiently to move on to their third straight western conference finals. As much as I dislike the Spurs with every Mavs-fiber in my entire body, it’s amazing to watch them work when they’re running on all cylinders. Take last night. Tony Parker (the Blazers killer) only played 10 minutes due to hamstring tightness but to the naked eye, the Spurs looked like the same team without him. Why was that? Well, as usual with the Spurs, other players stepped up and filled in whatever voids were present. Last night it was Kawhi Leonard (SPEED) and Danny Green (expected) to have big games but enter back up PG Patty Mills (18 pts, 2 ast, 3 reb) with a great performance himself. It also doesn’t hurt when the Spurs defense is playing so well that it forced 18 turnovers by Portland last night. The Trail Blazers were just outmatched from the start of the series and last night summed the series up in a single game. Portland surprised a lot of people throughout the season and while they fizzled out of the playoffs, Blazers fans shouldn’t be discouraged. The Spurs are the best team in the league right now but I have a feeling that the Blazers are going to be fighting for a spot in the conference finals plenty of times in the future. As far as San Antonio goes, it’s time to ice the knees and wait for their opponent in the conference finals.

A couple of nice game 6s tonight! As a neutral fan, i’m hoping that both series get extended to a 7th game. But how likely is that? In the east, Washington is looking to finally beat the Pacers in front of their home court. The Wizards need to build from the dominant performance in the previous game. While Indiana needs to show that they can be consistent once again. Feels like a complete toss up and while i’d love to go to a 7th game, I have a feeling Indiana closes it out tonight. Not the same out west! Ladies and gentleman, we’re going to see a 7th game between the Thunder and Clippers. There almost has to be, right? The Clippers will no doubt have a fire under them. And I think it’s enough fire for them to win even though the Thunder will be giving it their all to close it out.

Awkwardly funny

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