Spurs fall in game 6, but go down swinging.
The 2015-16 season painfully came to an end last night for San Antonio Spurs in a lopsided Game 6 vs the Oklahoma City Thunder. In what looked promising a few weeks ago, particularly that we were going to see a highly anticipated Spurs vs Warriors Conference finals match up is now out the window. Regardless of the crucial missed calls throughout the series for both teams, the right team won. The Spurs and their fans will have a hard time looking back at games 2, 4 and 5 which were all winnable, but the Spurs failed to capitalize on opportunities down the stretch in what could be Tim Duncan’s and Manu Ginobili’s last season. Perhaps the next time we’re looking at a #21 and #20 jersey we’ll be staring up at the rafters. Who knows, but for the moment let’s go ahead and look at what went wrong for the Spurs and what the Thunder did right.
Things started off pretty good for the Spurs. We saw the ball moving early on with Lamarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan coming along early in the game to lead the Thunder 19-13. It was until Gregg Poppovich made his first subs with 4:28, and that is when the game started to get ugly. The Spurs wouldn’t score the rest of the quarter and the Thunder went on a 12-0 run the end the quarter. The 2nd quarter didn’t get any better as the Spurs were out-scored 30-12. It felt like 2011 all over again. Boris Diaw never came off the bench, David West saw plenty of action, but it didn’t work. The Boban was finally unleashed, but maybe a little to late as he picked up fouls early on and didn’t make an impact at all. Pop even tried running Ginobili at the point and Kevin Martin at the two and nothing materialized. Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard took plenty of shots, but many of those that came were high risk/low reward shots. The Spurs could’ve stopped the bleeding if Patty Mills and Danny Green hit all their three’s, and not even that could go their way.
If there was a positive for the Spurs it’s that they showed heart till the very end. After trailing by 28 points going into the 4th and starting to make things interesting, as you can feel the fans in OKC start to get nervous as the Spurs wouldn’t go down without a fight, outscoring the Thunder 19-6 early on in the 4th and cut the lead to ten at one point, but that was as close they could come. Tim Duncan did finish with 19 points and was the second leading scorer for the Spurs in what could be his last game. Ginobili didn’t have a good shooting night, as his last shot of the game were from free throws, similar to last year vs the Clippers.
Now looking at the Thunder side of the ball everything seemed to go right for them. Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters coming off the bench were huge yet again for the Thunder. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both found a way to remain aggressive and consistent the whole game. Both also raised their defenses to an elite level compared to how they started out the series. Steve Adams yet again remained to be a wrecking ball for the Spurs all night and killed it offensively and defensively. Serge Ibaka had a pretty good game, but head coach Billy Donovan continued to gut it out by playing Kanter over Ibaka majority of the game, and it worked tremendously for them. Andre Roberson of all people started to slam the rock and hit some huge three’s from the wing. When Roberson starts going off you know it’s not your night. But that isn’t a knock at OKC. Kudos to them. After they got blown out in Game 1 in San Antonio, we saw a different team going forward and the Spurs just couldn’t find a counter to answer back.
OKC now heads to Golden State for Game 1 on Monday in which OKC heads into Oracle Arena with a chip on their shoulder, as they look for revenge against a scary Warriors team that is well-rested looking to win back-to-back championships. Not to mention a healthy Stephen Curry. OKC is the team best-suited to go into battle against this Warriors team that bullied them in the regular season. Finally I’m convinced we’re going to see the Warriors pushed and challenged, but in the end I think the Warriors wrap it up in 6 games.
If this truly was the end of the ‘Big 3′ together as a trio on the hardwood, then they definitely left their mark, and what a consistent and dominant run they had. Four NBA titles. 126 playoff wins. 575 regular season wins. Duncan is also the 3rd NBA player in history with 1,000 wins under his belt. It’s too early to see what is going to happen this offseason, but if I had to guess ,it’ will be that Ginobili hangs it up, and depending of what kind of moves the Spurs make in the offseason…pursuing a superstar or key player, will ultimately determine if we have seen the last of Duncan or not.