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Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 at 9:00 am  |  57 responses

San Antonio Spurs Continue to Carve Up the OKC Thunder


by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

That the San Antonio Spurs own a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals over the OKC Thunder isn’t exactly shocking. The Spurs were the favorites, after all. What is surprising, however, is how easily San Antonio has handled OKC.

The Spurs once again displayed their beautifully unstoppable ball movement last night, getting endless open looks against the helpless Thunder defense. And even though OKC did manage to briefly make the game close thanks to a furious second half rally, the outcome was never really in doubt.

Per NBA.com:

The Spurs ran a clinic at AT&T Center, their offense nothing short of perfectly synchronized en route to a 120-111 victory and what is likely an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final. All credit to the men driving the machine. But the Thunder seemed so befuddled on defense, especially in the third quarter that turned the game and the series for good, that for a time it became an embarrassing lack of effort. The way they didn’t challenge several 3-pointers, the way San Antonio flowed through the lane, it is hard to remember a time the Thunder looked so out of place and so defeated. Oklahoma City allowed 96.9 points in the regular season and 92.8 the first 10 playoff games. The Spurs had 92 at the end of the third period.

“They were making shots,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I mean, they were spraying them all over the floor and knocking them in. I thought (Kawhi) Leonard was making the shots. (Manu) Ginobili made a lot of tough shots tonight. (Tony) Parker was on fire … I like the guys’ mental toughness. It’s one of the things we’re good at. We are young, but that’s not an excuse. We play hard. I knew we were going to keep playing for 48 minutes. We got down 22 points. That’s not good. But we still came back and fought.”

The Thunder now travel home for Games 3 and 4, and looking to snap the Spurs’ stunning 20-game winning streak.

The only encouraging sign for OKC is that they were able to muck up the contest last night, mounting an impressive comeback in the process — for a little while, anyway — but as Kevin Durant pointed out in his postgame comments, this is no time for “moral victories.”

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  • jay cutler

    I think the Thunder will do well at home. They have a strong crowd and Russell Westbrick feeds off that kind of energy. The Thunder also made it a contest late though a Manu heat check 3 and fadeaway took it out of reach. Tony Parker was spectacular.

  • Niio

    The roll players are really stepping up for the Spurs, besides Harden, Durant and Westbrook no one has showed up for OKC.. oh yeah.. MANU! LOL

  • Niio

    Hey Jay did it seem to you that late in the Game KD was getting next to no touches?

  • Otis

    This series is really showing up Brooks as a coach. Him against Popovich isn’t really a fair fight.

  • http://www.sportsgrid.com/media/shaq-kobe-highlights/ shutup

    Tim Duncan on Ibaka was a monster jam. Tony Parker was simply amazing. Ginobili and Harden were both putting in work.

  • BlackStar

    As I said before, Spurs in 6. OKC is a very talented team, but when your big three combine for 80+ points and your team STILL LOSES, you are indeed in trouble. Players not named Parker, Ginobili and Duncan scored 55 points by themselves. Who in the hell is going to beat them this year? Looks like King James will have to settle for a silver medal again this year.

  • http://www.sportsgrid.com/media/shaq-kobe-highlights/ shutup

    20 in a row is simply amazing. As well as Russ played sometimes his decision making frustrates the hell out of me. He has to learn to let the game come to him.

  • biggieman

    It is scary how badly Greg Popovich is out-coaching Scotty Brooks in this series… Can someone please tell Russell Westbrook to fight through a screen on the top and stop going underneath to allow a wide open jump shot? He got murdered on this same thing last year by Jason Kidd, and Scott Brooks continues to allow it to happen. Talent can only take you so far, Brooks has got to start doing some actual coaching and come up with a scheme to slow down the Spurs, or he should be really be worried about his job.

  • http://moontain.org Fredd

    there’s potential to make History here … it sounds all perfect with the kind of Pop’, Tim and TP ( their state of minds ) … even if there’re all denying to think about it.

  • Trout

    OKC need one hell of a strategy change in game other wise they are looking at total dominance…

  • Drig

    TP was stroking those midrangers…..Spurs’ O is making OKC’s PnR D look like LA’s…..They might tie LAL’s record of 15-1 in the post season at this rate.

  • Heals

    Yawn…

  • OKCgotU

    Spurs surprise me…OKC is still young..they are going to be a great veteran team soon enough and win plenty of titles if they don’t win this year..

    GO OKC!

  • Zabba

    “…especially in the third quarter that turned the game and the series for good.” really? the series is over? come on, at least say that when it’s 3-0.

  • PnoyVibe

    The Spurs are readying their brooms

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    Thunder’s not ready yet.
    That’s all.
    No big deal. For, this is a valuable experience for them.

  • http://www.hoopsworld.com/ IamYOU

    ^I agree, Thunder’s not blossom yet so we have to wait for another season or two.

  • ash

    Spurs are up 2 games but I expect them to win in 5. Talent alone can’t beat a well coached team. This series has been good.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Looks like most of y’all are underestimating the kind of effect a great home crowd has on a young team. Don’t be surprised if this thing comes back 2-2 in SA.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    Brooks has to do something about those ball screens tho. I thought Russell tried to fight over them but when he did he just ended up trailing Parker who just seemed to make the right decision everytime, whether it was shooting or passing. They can’t keep playing the screens that way because at the level TP has been playing, he’s gonna continue to pick them apart.

  • Ldub

    OKC is a good team defensive (as a whole)…but they only have 3 good defensive players in Thabo, Ibake and Perkins. Problem is, Spurs have good individual players that can break down the less defensive minded players, causing a breakdown in their overall defense. Then, because the Spurs have good shooters…youre giving someone a wide open look. Watching the game last night, they clearly had no answer for TP. And Ibaka allowing Duncan to “DUNK” on him without any real attempt to stop him was bananas. I say stop TP and your chances of winning increase greatly. Allow others to try and get 30 a night. But team D around TP is one of the answers… 16-21? really!

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    If Miami beats Boston, I will be really interested to see the offense and defense of Miami versus what the Spurs do. I think it’s going to be an entirely different sort of game. People underrate how active the Heat can be when Wade and LeBron are fully engaged, and they seem to be overlooking the fact that the Spurs rarely use a rim protector.

  • bt

    If the Spurs keep this up and win the chip there’s no way anyone can claim there should be an asterix next to the title.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cheryl

    I actually dread a Spurs/Heat Finals. I love both teams and it will be torture for me to root for one over the other. I do know one thing though, it will be a heck of a series and it won’t be a sweep, barring any serious injuries to either team’s main players. Oh gosh…

  • SylvioMac

    Asterix next to title? Last I checked it was shortened season, not a shortened post-season.

  • permaculture james

    If you don’t like how SA is playing, you don’t like basketball. AllenP: I remember being amazed by the first time I saw the Heat play defense this season: smothering w lightning closeouts on 3s. Should be exciting if it comes to that.

  • http://www.hoopsworld.com/ IamYOU

    Cosign Cheryl! Even before the Playoffs started I was like SPURS,HEAT FINALS!

  • crooklyn

    @AllenP, Do you think the dynaminc duo of miami can play both sides of the ball for a full 48? Because this team never stops moving, even the role players become dangerous. I think they will get exhausted trying to do everything. The spurs WILL NOT allow a mike miller to have a stat line as a member of the walking wounded, This spurs TEAM is the epitome of TEAM basketball and that is why I think they will win it all. TD undefeated in the finals

  • pacmac

    I’m still not gonna say it, just yet……..

  • robb

    ^^^^^
    Yep

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Crooklyn
    The only way to stop Miller and the other shooters from getting shots is by closing out incredibly quickly and opening the lane somewhat.
    If Tim Duncan was still the rim protector he once was, that would be one thing, but right now the Spurs are most potent when they go small with Duncan as the main big. That lineup suits Miami exceptionally well.
    Bron and Wade don’t have to play 48 minutes. They just have to play hard on both ends whenever they are out there. The Spurs have to sit their stars just like the Heat sit theirs. The difference is that Bron and Wade never leave the court together.
    I think that you stop the Heat with a big who makes them less confident going to rim and forcing them to shoot jumpers or inbetween stuff. I’m not sure the Spurs have that anymore. Maybe I’m wrong though. And maybe Kawhi Leonard is the answer against Bron, but I will be SHOCKED of the Spurs sweep the post season.

  • Y u spell it fiyah

    Word up to all the old ballers in their thirties still trying to make a few bucks at local runs. I play against dudes ten years younger and I usually have to scratch and wheeze to keep up, but every now and then you fake someone out with an old-guy move and you remember why basketball is awesome.

  • stopping miller…the dude passes up every shot he does a great job of stopping himself…

  • Fat Lever

    Did Sean Elliot do this write up? This series is far from over. Like JTaylor said, OKC feed off of their crowd maybe better than any other team.

  • crooklyn

    To anyone who got my mike miller reference twisted it was merely to show that miami will need a full effort from everyone and being injured isn’t going to help on the court against SA. I mean miami gave that dude some big minutes against indiana and probably will with boston, and if thats what they are down to , then they got problems. In other words no bench-no ring.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    For those who say the Thunder aren’t ready, what’s gonna happen when they’re completely out of cap space once Harden and Ibaka are free agents? The future of their contracts is gonna look ugly, especially as Harden is playing his way into a max deal.

  • http://facebook.com/tronjohnson Chief

    This Thunder team has one weakness, Westbrook can’t rein it in when he should and get’s tunnel vision. Durant needs to step up and say hey man I’m the man. They can’t have Perk and Ibaka out there at the same time and expect the spurs not to run that Double pick and roll play. More or less it is about what the Spurs know and what the thunder don’t know. Nevermind how deep the spurs bench is.

  • LP

    THIS ISN’T about WESTBROOK’s offense, this is about OKC’s team defense to stop Tony Parker…i much as i want to blame Parker going off on Westbrook, i can’t …Westbrook is seeing 3 ball screens EVERY OFFENSIVE PLAY. nobody helps… and when they do, its a kick out for a 3…This is about OKC as a whole and their coaching staff, not just “Westbrook shooting too much”…

  • LA Huey

    This was a VERY winnable game for OKC. Poor closeouts on threes and waiting WAY too effing long to make an adjustment in the 2nd half is what killed them. Spurs “little 9″ about tripled the output of OKC’s “little 9″. You can trust there will be a shift in production in those areas as the scene will on Thursday. I expect this series to come back to San Antonio tied up.

  • LA Huey

    Sounds like more than your stated “one weakness”, Chief. =)

  • jose

    Co-sign JTaylor21: homecourt always helps a team. and usually series get tied back up after game 4. . .but imagine if the Spurs actually Swept the Thunder. . That would be mind blowing. . . .undefeated up to the finals

  • Gus

    @ Y u spell it fiyah, i feel you man, word up…SA is showing that and more

  • LP

    @ LA HUEY : how can you expect OKC role players to produce more if they aren’t that capable? Who will shift the production on OKC’s bench? Ibaka, perkins, collison, Thabo?………. They don’t have that personnel, ALSO, their offense isn’t set up to get steady production out of those players…Only production for 3 players is how they set it up……….meanwhile, the Spurs got that offense set to involve everybody, they got BORIS DIAW (??) making reads and picking them apart…Kawhi leonard knocking down shots…Stephen Jackson, gary neal…

  • LP

    I saw somebody say on Twitter: “The OKC offense was built to be the LAKERS…they didn’t count on the Spurs still being good.” True.

  • Jerome

    Thunder MAY get one in this series. That is all. Heat will suffer the same fate in the final. TP=MVP

  • Ldub

    SA in 6? I think OKC, with their home crowd, can come back and win 2 at home. IF they do that, they might have enough confidence to put up a better fight in SA. Problem is RW, JH and KD will all get theirs. But where is the additional help coming from? Fish is too old, Cook doesnt play, Serge and Perk are defensive players. Unless they make a dedicated effort as a team to get other involved and make the Spurs use some energy on the defense end. This will be games 1 and 2 all over again. Spurs are playing 3 no 5. Not even concerned with anyone that doesnt shoot more than 10 times a game!

  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    Co-Sign LP It’s not like the Thunder aren’t scoring enough points. They put up 111 yesterday, read a stat that said something like they were 39-0 since 2010 when scoring over 110 points. The need defensive stops. They need to figure out the pick and roll. I feel bad for Westbrook because the box score sayd Parker killed him, but its impossible to stop a guard as quick and crafty as Parker when you’re getting hit by ball screen after ball screen. The only thing he needs to stop doing is feel like he needs to match Parker and jack up an erratic shot in return.

  • LA Huey

    LP, a few more shots go down for the OKC’s role players and a lot less go down for the Spurs role plays. That’s a 15-20 point swing, easy. I don’t expect Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Gary Neal’s game to “travel” very well. The crowd will inspire OKC to actually make a 3rd, 4th, 5th rotation and close out on shooters. I say all this assuming its not part of Brooks’ game plan to concede corner threes.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com albie1kenobi

    i’m surprised by the overwhelming “thumbs up” for Spurs. Are there no Thunder backers on here?
    in any case, i don’t think game 2 was as much a Spurs beatdown as other thinks. there’ll be a game (or 2) when both russ and KD go OFF, and i didn’t see any evidence from Spurs that they’ll be able to stop them. the only way for the spurs to win is to outscore the Thunder in those instances, so i don’t see a sweep.
    in fact, i’m quite sure the Thunder will be back in SA tied at 2-2. the series’ momentum can shift completely by a 10-0 run late in a fourth quarter, and KD and company are more than capable of doing just that, regardless of what scott brooks can’t orchestrate.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com albie1kenobi

    and another comment on game 2 in general: i want to watch player and ball movements, not 9 guys standing around to watch someone practicing free throws with an 18,000 audience.

  • LA Huey

    albie, it’s in every level of basketball and I dislike it. I wish fouls in the bonus gives the offense the choice of 1 FT plus the ball OR just 2 FTs.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com albie1kenobi

    @LA Huey: yeah, but that’s a potential 3 point play every time, and i’m not sure if that’ll help improve/speed up the game.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Red

    Whoever wins the west as good as already has won the Finals.

  • LA Huey

    I think it would speed up the end of games when a team is down more possessions than there’s time left on the clock. And also, there would be no point to fouling DeAndre Jordan with 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter if he gets a 50/50 chance of scoring a point and the ball back.

  • Jerome

    Ask the Spurs’ 1st & 2nd round opponents if the Spurs’ bench “travels” well.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    How underrated the Spurs are?? They haven’t lost in the Playoffs, they are currently 2 games ahead of the “supposed” to be the KINGS of the West, and they beat them as well as they beat other teams. But still, they get no respect. OKC winning 2 straight games at home?? With this Spurs team?? Man, y’all should face reality. I called this before this series started, Spurs in 4 and I’ll be doing the Manu fistpumps celebration if this happens.

  • Ronald

    @albiekenobi Westbrook, Durant and Harden combined for 88 points. Isn’t that “going off” enough?

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