Well all the "experts" said we would lose our top-seed because of Tony Parker's serious ankle injury. Not only did he come back well before the 4-week time-table, but we did just fine without him. We did not lose our #1 seed while he was hurt. I'm gonna post the same image I have posted the last two updates, although of course it's updated with the results since my last update.
Mine / Schedule Source
Oddly enough, Tony Parker played in the first game since my last update. We have gone an unimpressive 5-4 since then. Tony missed a bunch of games, and I think we went 6-2 or something without him. But many other things have struck this team. In the 2nd quarter of Tony's 4th game back, at home vs. the LA Clippers, Manu twekaed a hamstring that's been bothering him somewhat all season. It was determined that it was bad enough that he would miss 3-4 weeks. Boris Diaw missed several games due to a back problem. DeJuan Blair was sick and missed several. Stephen Jackson had missed a bunch of games, and appeared only here & there when his ankle would allow. Then Tony got a neck stinger during the OKC game, and had to miss two more!
We went through a stretch of FIVE straight games, even with Tony, which were all decided on the last play of the game. And for one (James Harden) reason or (Chris Bosh) another, we lost 3 of those 5. We competed well, and should've won against a Miami team, who sat its stars this time around. A phantom Kawhi Leonard foul on Norris Cole lost us that game. Then the very next night against Memphis, we had a 3-pt lead with mere seconds to go, for the second night in a row, and Mike Conley buried us with last-second heroics. Both of these games were officiated badly, and we should've won - no doubt.
Friday, April 12th was not a good day. News surfaced that Boris Diaw had back surgery to remove a spinal cyst, and would miss 3-4 weeks. Then just hours later it was revealed that a week-long ongoing "feud" between Stephen Jackson and Coach Pop resulted in him being CUT. Apparently he's been upset about his diminished role, and probably still not 100% psychologically since the death of his unborn child. He argued with Pop, and you know who's gonna win that battle.
So here we stand with THREE games remaining.. tied in the loss-column with OKC, but without the tiebreaker. Tony is looking great, but not quite 100%. Manu might be back midway through the first round of the playoffs, which begin NEXT SATURDAY. We won't see Boris Diaw until probably the second round. Our fierce veteran leader, and only small forward not named Kawhi Leonard is history. Yeah I hate the move, but I don't run the team. Thank you Captain Jack!!
The silver lining is that Timmy Duncan has been playing lights-out.. All season, really. Like he's 26 - not 36. Gary Neal's been one of our only sparks off the bench, and we're gonna need that to continue. There are 3 games remaining. The Lakers lost Kobe to a ruptured achilles.. He's done for a long time. We should be able to win all three of these. The only problem is OKC can just as easily win their two. We're probably gonna be stuck in the 2-seed, but at least it wasn't because of Tony Parker's ankle, as everyone assumed. It's because this team has been hit with a broad, gigantic spectrum of things no one could foresee. But that's OK with me - this team is historically resilient. A few players are gonna have to step up right now. Kawhi Leonard. DeJuan Blair. Tiago Splitter. Even you, Mr. Bonner. A series against Houston or Golden State doesn't bother me at all, really. And a Denver team who was as hot as hot can be the last month is also now reeling with Lawson & Galinari injuries of their own.
So the question remains:
Can we beat OKC in the Western Conference Finals? Of course we can! Putting our franchise's 4-0 Finals record against these Miami Heat, however, might be a different story altogether.
Here are the current NBA standings with four days left.