Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spurs Update: Western Conference Finals

The scene changed dramatically for game-3, as a seemingly half-dejected OKC Thunder crowd outside Chesapeake Energy Arena welcomed the San Antonio Spurs for game-3, and the feeling was that of confident reserve for Spurs' fans. I said it over a week ago that if we're gonna lose a game, it's gonna be this one. Barkley thought so too, but both Kenny and Shaq picked Spurs.

Priority #1 was withstanding the overwhelming crowd that is present in this Arena. As the game began, OKC went up 8-0 before Popovich had even sat down, it seemed like. So timeout Spurs, and now let's begin for real. Everyone would get quickly into the scoring mix. By the end of

The Sea of Blue - Img Source: 2012 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

the 1st-Q 6 Spurs and 6 Thunder players had scored, and the score was 24-22, Spurs.

The advantage continued for the Thunder, however, as their shots kept going in, but ours were just a little off. After almost 8 minutes had gone by, the Spurs had only scored 8 (four from Manu), while the Thunder had scored just about every time down the floor. The lead grew quickly to 14, 46-32, and it would be all we could do with a few subs off the bench, to stay in it as best we could. Durant hit a bunch of FTs, and a difficult jumper, while Tony & Manu kept us in the game. But at the horn, the Thunder had outscored us 32-17 in the 2nd-Q. To me it seemed as if Pop wasn't realizing the adjustments they made after game-2 were working. So we all await Pop's own classic halftime adjustments, down 54-41. Thabo Sefolosha assigned to Tony Parker was one of the main adjustments - Tony only had 10 thus far.

Then Sefolosha began the 2nd-half hitting a three of his own - his second of the game. Then after Danny Green hit a three, and Tony nailed a jumper, OKC would go on a 16-5 run over almost 8 minutes. During this time Sefolosha's play was incredible: Steals, defense.. frustrating Tony with his length. ...And we were down 22!! 73-51 with 2:31 left in the 3rd.

Obviously the crowd was going INSANE by this time, and I think it was apparent on the faces of most of the Spurs that we were probably gonna take this one on the chin. Then Jack hit two straight threes - but Thabo came back with another one of his
Thabo was key - Img Source: 2012 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

own, and the 4th-Q stage was set with the Thunder up by 18.. 78-60.

Jackson opened the 4th with another three, closing to within 15, but then OKC would score 8-striaght. Wow. Now down 23, Pop appears to have given up WAYYY too early by putting in James Anderson (who had actually earned a few earlier minutes), along with Patty Mills and DeJuan Blair, who's been in the doghouse ever since Boris Diaw happened. Neal & Anderson pulled us to within 18 again with 8:52 on the clock, but then OKC ran off another 9-straight and pretty much putting all the nails in the coffin, 95-68. But there's still 6:35 left, and aren't we the top-scoring team in the league?

It didn't matter.. Tony, Tim, & Manu never saw another second. Sefolosha would continue to impress as he'd finish with 19 & 6 along with SIX steals. DeJuan Blair actually showed something most weren't prepared for - in 10 minutes, he scored 10 on 5 of 7 shooting, with 6 rebounds. Yeah, Pop, you should've tried him sooner.

The game was lost late in the 2nd-Q, but I give this one to Pop for not recognizing that all the adjustments they made were working, and working well. And it took him too long to make some changes himself. I guess when you win 20-straight games, you start to be a little reluctant to make changes. We had wayy too many turnovers (21), only 18 assists, but we failed to match their energy that lasted throughout 48 minutes. Here's ESPN's boxscore..

Game-4 Saturday night should be better.

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