Category Archives: NBA
The San Antonio Spurs hold a solid 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals for the second straight year. I know I know, last season the Spurs looked unbeatable, until they lost 4 straight against Oklahoma City. The Spurs swept through their previous 20 games, prior to losing 4 straight. The Spurs haven’t had it quite as easy this year, and that might be why they will get back to the finals.
We’re all in agreement that coach Greg Popovich is a hall of fame coach, probably the best in the NBA today. Pop has 4 rings on his hand, the respect of his players (which isn’t a given in pro sports anymore), and will probably have a statue outside of the at&t center one day. Out of all his classic playoff runs, this year’s might be his best coaching job ever. After the Spurs blew the kobeless Lakers out of the water, they found themselves in a real war with the young Warriors. The Spurs had no answer for Golden State in game 1, and needed a miracle of a lifetime just to eek out an overtime victory at home. Game 2 was the same, without the miracle, and just like that Golden state took all the momentum and homecourt away from the Spurs. The titanic was sinking, the Spurs were done, Golden State was well on its way to shocking the world and the Spurs were doomed for another playoff collapse.
Then Pop went to work, and righted the ship. Coach Pop made the proper adjustments, like having his best defender Kawhi Leonard take 2 guard Klay Thompson out of the series, instead of superstar Steph Curry. Danny Green was assigned to Curry, and Pop dared the other Warriors to beat them. What happened next was the Spurs went 3-1 in the remaining games, and eliminated the upstart Warriors. On to the Western Conference finals, against old nemesis the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies had eliminated the Spurs 2 seasons ago, and many feel they’ll do it again.
So Pop did it again, at least for the 1st two games of the series. Pop game planned and took Zack Randolph out of game 1, so much so that the Eddie Winslow lookalike only scored 2 points. Pop made sure the Spurs pushed the tempo, not allowing the Grizzlies to set up their #1 defense. This led to a huge blow out. Game 2 was much of the same, although the Spurs went cold and allowed the Grizzlies to send the game into overtime, before pulling out the victory.
Time will tell if Pop keeps pushing the right buttons, as the series shifts to Memphis. But if you’re a betting man, bet on Pop not allowing last season’s collapse to happen again.
The Spurs just won a very good series last night, in the most hostile environment in the NBA. They dug deep, and brought out that championship grit I talked about in an earlier blog. Coach Pop made the right defensive adjustments, game planning to take out the star guard duo of Curry and Thompson. The big 3 stepped up, and took the shots they needed too, and Kawhi Leonard is emerging as a true star in this league.
The biggest and most surprising stat about this game, is Tony Parker and Manu Giniobili had 5 points between them going into the 4th quarter, and the Spurs were still winning. Duncan had 19 points, and didn’t even play in the crunch time of this game, and like I said Kawhi stepped up and added 16 points and 10 rebounds to carry this team until Tony Parker could take over. Tiago Splitter added 14 points, Danny Green added some big 3 point shots, and great defense on Curry. Corey Joseph, the true backup point guard now added some big shots and good on the ball D as well.
This depth will serve them well, if it lasts going into the Western conference finals against Memphis. The Spurs know what they’ll get in the Big 3, but the guys I mentioned above have to step up again. Green and Joseph need to play great D, and hit big 3’s. Leonard needs to continue his flight as a star, and Tiago Splitter must be effective in the paint. Look for Blair, Bonner, and Diaw to see solid minutes in this series, but Tiago must be the guy that we all know he can be. Make no mistake Spurs and Memphis will be a war, so the difference will be if the younger Spurs can help out the older vets.
The Spurs traveled to Oakland tied 1-1 with the Warriors, but were on the ropes. For starters, they had lost a home game in the playoffs, never a good sign, and were lucky to even win the 1 game at home they did win. The world was crashing down around the Spurs, and to make things worse they were going to the loudest arena in the NBA (don’t believe me, ask ESPN) and were in real danger of falling 3-1 to the upstart Warriors. The only problem, nobody told the Spurs they were doomed.
The Spurs rolled into the bay area, and even though the arena was the loudest in the history of sports (again, per ESPN) the Spurs were able to take back home court. Tony Parker did what great players do, he carried the team in the 1st half, made sure the Warriors didn’t build on their momentum gained in San Antonio. Parker scored 25 points in the 1st half, and it was enough to springboard the Spurs to victory.
Game 4 didn’t go as well, but the Spurs did play well defensively and took the Warriors to over time. Bottom line the Spurs took back the series, and home court. Now don’t start planning the victory parade on the riverwalk yet, the Warriors could come back to San Antonio just as hot as they left. But the Spurs showed some real grit in the loudest place on earth (ok i’m harping), took the game they needed too, and come back to San Antonio with a real blueprint on how to beat the Warriors, and win this series.
We’re in the middle of the NBA playoffs, we’ve weeded out the pretenders, and are down to the elite 8 contenders of the NBA. Of course, as has been the case for the last 14 years, the San Antonio Spurs are right in the mist of a playoff series. And yet again, they’ve run into a young, up and coming western conference team ready to knock off the Spurs off and prove it’s their time. Coach Pop, Duncan and company are used to this scenario. When the Spurs are at their best, they’re able to grind it out, and show true championship grit. Once upon a time, Dirk and the Mavs, Nash and the Suns, and CP3 and the Hornets were victims to the Spurs Dynasty. The Spurs don’t always win these series, obviously, but when they’re at a championship level, they usually find a way to win these playoff battles.
Usually, these tough series resemble a championship fight. The key to winning a tough fight, and a tough series, is to take a good punch, but deliver the knockout blow when the time is right. You have to break the spirit of the fighter in front of you, whether it be a massive knockout blow, or 100 body shots that finally break the other guy down. Coach Pop and the Spurs are the body puncher, wearing opponents down until they can’t fight anymore. If the Spurs are going to win this fight against Golden State, they’ll have to work the body again, since the big punch didn’t work. The Warriors already took a massive punch during game 1, where the Spurs erased a 16 point deficit, and won in double OT. The Warriors got up, and delivered their own massive blow, winning game 2 convincingly on the Spurs home court.
Now the Warriors go home, to perhaps the best home court in the league with all the confidence in the world. The Warriors might have even scared the Spurs, by taking the game 1 punch in the gut, and punching right back. This weekend is what the boxing business call the championship rounds. Game’s 3 and 4, both in Oakland, will probably decide who wins this series. If the Spurs can manage to steal a game or two, they’ll take control back. If the Warriors continue to run the Spurs off the court, this time their own court, the Warriors will have landed the punch that basically leaves the Spurs helpless.
The Spurs have been here before, well the core of the Big 3 and Coach Pop have. They know its time to get serious, it’s time to muster up some of that championship grit that has served them so well in the past. The big question is, as is every season, do the Spurs still have that championship moxy? This weekend in the Bay area might not just determine this season for the Spurs, it might also determine whether or not the Spurs dynasty is finally over.