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Friday, June 1st, 2012 at 9:35 am  |  34 responses

Post Up: Spurs Done Streaking

Oklahoma City snaps San Antonio’s 20-game win streak in Game 3 of the Western Finals.

Thunder 102, Spurs 82 (SAS leads 2-1)

Oh, look, it’s that series we were all expecting to be awesome. It just showed up.

Thabo Sefolosha played like prime Bruce Bowen with cartoon arms and an electric motor. The second half devolved into the Thunder starting lineup doing an Oprah-esque, “Everybody gets a lob!” impression. And a pissed-off Gregg Popovich gave a mid-timeout interview where he emasculated Craig Sager to distract everyone from the fact that he didn’t want to say, “I’m not sure I have answers for this one.”

And that’s because he had no answers for this one. Oklahoma City beat San Antonio by 20 last night, 102-82. It felt like twice that.

So goes the 20-game win streak for the Spurs, who had looked like one of the all-time great Playoff teams until almost everything went wrong after the first quarter in Game 3. Pop threw in the towel with about six minutes left hoping it wasn’t a wet blanket, too.

The Spurs got run out of the gym.

The adjustments were subtle, but they were everything. Russell Westbrook didn’t spend a second chasing around Parker. This freed up Westbrook to run the offense and play true point guard all night—he had 9 assists—but it mostly gave Thabo Sefolosha the agency to play the game of his life.

Right now, in some dark room somewhere, an OKC video intern is trying to figure out how many tipped passes Thabo had in this game. And that kid will be up all night. Sefolosha ended up with 6 outright steals, but he killed plays before they started more times than Tony Parker had assists.

The guy was everywhere. We might have a resident Tony Allen in the Playoffs every year—a guy who changes a series and ruins your Twitter feed with his defense. It’s Thabo this year.

Oh, and the tips and deflections and steals? That created fastbreaks and alley-oops and energy. There was a Kevin Durant poster dunk from the second quarter that’ll be on the sole of a shoe some day, whenever he wins that first ring.

That may be soon, by the way. The Thunder figured something out in this game. If they can create a footrace with turnovers and perimeter defense, do you really think the Spurs can keep up with this team? Do you really think anybody can keep up with this team?

Brooks knew the second part—the footrace part. He just didn’t know how to get there. That’s Adjustment No. 2: They switched on everything.

A Duncan/Parker pick-and-roll? Okay, Perkins will switch immediately onto Parker up top, then the whole team will collapse on the drive.

Does it sound like it’ll work? No. Did it? Yep.

That’s how you freak out a team that just won 20 in a row. You’ve gotta get weird.

The Spurs will recover. That’s what the Spurs do. Gregg Popovich spent the whole fourth quarter thinking about Game 4.

But this Thunder team just got momentum and energy and a working gameplan overnight.

I don’t have one, so someone’s going to have to let me know: When you look over to your little brother and you figure out he can finally beat you—fair and square—what happens next? —Ben Collins

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  • apeman

    The spurs will win game four…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Spurs will close it out in 6.

  • Heals

    KennySmith said some years ago and it’s one of the best pieces of analysis for this “cover it like the Super Bowl” approach to sports coverage that most pundits/talking heads have embraced; “the closest a serie ca be after 3 games is, 2-1.” There’s also the “the series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game,” mantra that I guess the folks over at ESPN forgot about. Here’s to hoping one of these series make at least 6 games…

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    As much criticism as Scott Brooks gets for his lack of making adjustments I must say it was a good idea for him to put Thabo on TP instead of having Russ run crazy around screens like in Games 1 & 2.

  • HAMMER

    Spurs win next game, close it out in 6.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Good quote Heals.
    I agree T-Ray.
    Shocking what playing the pick and roll competently and closing out shooters with energy does to San Antonio’s offense.
    It makes it simply a very good offense instead of some otherworldly concoction capable of destroying everyone.
    Spurs still will get buckets, but it won’t the be the constant parade of layups and wide open three. At least I hope not.
    Game Four should be great. Spurs will match OKC’s energy in that game, and they will push them to execute down the stretch. At least that’s how I would wager if I wagered. It will be interesting to see if the young kids can execute when the chips are down and the game is tight.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    If the Spurs win the next game they close it out in five, not six. No way are they losing a closeout game at home.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    I believe they can. OKC is great in that building and when the game is tight they seem to execute very well. You bring up an interesting point about playing the pick and roll on the Spurs. If the Heat play the Spurs in the Finals do you think with Miami’s defense they can disrupt their offense even more?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    And, let’s give Spoelstra credit. He made the same adjustment Brooks made, only he made it in the middle of a game and his team executed it on the fly.
    Also, switching the pick and roll is not going to work forever, so I hope Brooks understands what the real solution is. The switching just allowed the Thunder to do what is the basis for beating the Spurs. Force Duncan to beat you on the block alone, or everyone not named Parker or Manu to create a shot against the shot clock.
    I expect Pop to have figured out how he wants to attack the switches by next game. Probably with less standing, more weakside action, and more ball movement. I also expect him to go back to that Pick and roll, followed by a quick pass to a dribble handoff more often. Switching that will cause more issues.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    T-Ray
    I believe a Miami vs San Antonio Finals will be far more competitive than most people think, and I give the Heat even odds at winning.
    I think not only is Miami more disciplined and active on defense, they are more mentally resilient. They understand how to weather runs. I think OKC has a great advantage with Ibaka to protect the rim, which Miami somewhat lacks, but I think Wade, Bron and Anthony can be almost as effective in aggregate.
    I also think that LeBron provides far more offensive problems than Durant, particularly when he posts up. And with the way Wade and Bron have both committed to cutting off the ball, you won’t see the same amount of standing and watching you see with the Thunder.
    I understand that if the team’s match up (which is still very much in doubt) that the Spurs should be the slight favorite, but the Heat have a very good shot at winning.

  • marchalmadness

    @HAMMER, so spurs win @thunders court, then thunder wins @spurs and then spurs wins @thunder??? What are you smoking?

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Yea I agree. I would give the slight edge to the Heat only if Bosh comes back and they can get consistent shooting from Miller, Battier and Jones. They can put either Wade or Bron on Parker if he gets going like they do with Rondo. Bosh is too big for Diaw and wouldn’t let him rest on defense as much as he’s doing with Ibaka.

  • LA Huey

    This series has highlighted why I don’t think Durant is on LeBron’s level yet. Durant has no real impact on defense. He’s not a sieve, just an average defender. With his quickness and length, he should be much more disruptive on defense. He’s got some nice hops and is as tall as Dwight Howard.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    It’s a complete digression; but did anyone else notice how many time Harden bumped a Spurs player going the opposite way to play defense?

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Yes I did Spaceship. I was wondering wtf was that all about.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    Dammit I predicted a sweep…OK, Spurs in 5.

  • Suede

    Thunder will win one on the road, but they’ll lose the next game. Spurs in six.

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

    Anyone who didnt know a game like this was coming hasn’t been a Spurs fan that long. The Thunder’s energy was off the charts, was hoping the Spurs would right the ship but it didnt happen. Westbrook has played his best game of the series 10/15 shooting great decision making, thats what the Thunder need out of him. Wasn’t really a fan of the Harden stare-down, sometimes its best to let sleeping dragons(i know its supposed to be dog, I prefer dragons) lie. Game four will be very interesting.

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

    @Fury that wasn’t directed at you, I actually wrote that in the last Spurs post up after watching the game last night and reposted it here.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    “I prefer dragons” Quote of the year.
    I think the Thunder will win the next game also. I could really go for a Durant vs LeBron Finals so i’m leaning OKC these days.

  • anonymous

    I like duncan but he was 6-15 in g1, 2-11 in g2, and 5-15 in g3. His rebounds have been fine 11, 12, and 2 (in 26 min) but as a 6’11 pf/c those shooting numbers are not good. he needs to step it up.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    What did I say about home fans having a positive impact on young teams. That is exactly what happened last night and for once in his life, SBrooks made an adjustment (Thabo on TP). This series is going back to SA tied 2-2.
    Also, KD makes those dunks look like he’s gliding through the air. The man has quietly become the best in-your-face dunker in the NBA.

  • LA Huey

    I like how you can tell whether KD is going to dunk or not as soon as he puts it on the floor

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    JT… Nahh, that’s definitely still Blake.

  • LA Huey

    LakeShow, you think Gregory House’s look alike is the best in-your-face dunker in the NBA? jk

  • Heals

    Probably over-thinking it, but I wonder if the Mia coaches/team leaders take note of SA’s performance and go all (not that they wouldn’t otherwise, but ya’ll know what I mean) out in an effort to guarantee their series is over after tonight…

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Haha, I don’t see the resemblance.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Thunder had everything clicking last night and the Spurs played the whole game like they played the first half of Game 1. I say Spurs win Game 4 by 5 in a defensive/execution battle.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Lake, I got KD #1 and BGriff #2 because KD doesn’t need to use his off-hand when detonating on cats.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    whoa whoa… I think we’re forgetting the homie Russell Westbrook in all this. imo though… lebron’s still the best in your face dunker. but that’s me.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I got B-Griff #1. Beeleed me. My team is on the receiving end of Blakes dunk wrath on many an occasion. If anyone should hate on him it’d be me, but dude throws down hammers like Kemp did. He hams down the hardest dunks on peoples grills since Vince was doing his thing. KD is super long so he is going to be able to throw down some big ones on fellas that can’t reach that length, but he doesn’t have the ferocity that Blake’s got. KD is my 2nd favorite player in the L, but his dunks don’t match Blakes.

  • http://www.google.be/imgres?q=watch+out+we+got+a+badass&um=1&hl=nl&sa=N&rlz=1C1AFAB_enBE454BE454&biw=1600&bih=799&tbm=isch&tbnid=qB4CTXEDbyW1dM:&imgrefurl=http://kn Max

    Dwight Howard?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    Future Raptor Jonas Valanciunas aka Euro Blake Griffin? Yes. That was his nickname over in Lithuania.

  • LA Huey

    When KD dunks on a fella, it’s like a gust of wind just blew past him. Dude, dunks like a ninja. When Blake dunks on cats, he feels it in his bones. He dunks like Sabertooth. LeBron isn’t in this conversation because when he goes for the dunk, cats decide to move out of the way or foul hard.

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