(We’re skipping the usual intro tonight because I don’t really have anything to say.)
San Antonio Spurs 120, Oklahoma City Thunder 111: Spurs lead series 2-0
So, as it turns out, the Spurs are really, really good.
This was hammered home in the third quarter, when the Spurs decided that an 11 point halftime lead wasn’t enough and put on an absolute ball movement clinic, capped off by a Tony Parker three in semi-transition to put the Spurs up 20 and force the Thunder to use a timeout. In semi-desperation, the Thunder started fouling Tiago Splitter, who has been struggling from the line in the playoffs. It only kind of worked — Splitter made enough free throws to get by — but it knocked San Antonio out of the earlier rhythm and allowed the Thunder to claw their way back into the game. They never got any closer than 4, but still.
The Thunder did some things better — namely, scoring — but still have questions to answer. For one, why are Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher getting so many minutes? Perkins did at least get fewer minutes than he did in game one, but he still had 25 — probably about 20 too many — and Fisher logged 26 minutes. Playing Fisher was semi-explicable in game one, when he started 6/6 from the field and scored 13 points, but he was 2/11 tonight and Scott Brooks kept him out there. If the Thunder give Nick Collison all of Perkins’ minutes and James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha split Fisher’s minutes, I’m guessing things go better for them.
The Big Three were kind enough to show up for both sides for this one. Kevin Durant had 31-5-5, Russell Westbrook had 27-7-8 with 0 turnovers and Harden added 30-7-4 on 10/13 from the field. On the other side, Tim Duncan didn’t shoot well, but finished with 11-12-6 to go with 4 blocks, Tony Parker had 34 points and 8 assists on 16/21 (!!!) shooting, and Manu Ginobili had 20 points and 4 assists. The problem was that the Spurs had role players step up — Kawhi Leonard had 18 points and 10 rebounds, for instance — while the Thunder had Derek Fisher and Serge Ibaka, who combined for 18 points and 13 rebounds on 5/22 from the field.
Although the Parker 3 was fun, my favorite moment was definitely right before the end of the first half, when Tim Duncan wound up and threw it down on Serge Ibaka’s head. And Tim Duncan’s resurgence — coupled with the Spurs suddenly looking like the best team in history — is probably my favorite storyline from this postseason. The Spurs are immensely fun to watch and I honestly can’t wait to see them go up against the Miami Heat, who I assume will have little to no problem vanquishing the Boston Celtics en route to the NBA Finals.
I figured the Thunder would be able to figure things out after game one, but game two was not encouraging. They’re going to need to take both games in Oklahoma City against a team that’s won 20 in a row to even have a prayer in this series. But my suspicion is Spurs in five right now.
Wednesday, May 30th:
Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Game 2, 7:30 PM, ESPN