OKC/SA Game 4:
All Tied Up
I woke up this morning to no alarm, fully rested, and surprisingly hangover-free. The sun was shining, the birds chirping, and no hobos were yelling in the alley.
And everything still sucks because the Spurs lost.
As I told you before the game started, I was at a bar watching the Spurs game and Kings game simultaneously while getting tequila drunk, so my recollection is hazy at best. Here's what I do remember:
- Danny Green was allergic to making a 3. After going 7/16 in the last series from downtown, the kid kept bricking long balls left and right. A couple of these came when the Spurs desperately needed a momentum swing.
- Kevin Durant is a mad man. He scored 18 points in the final 7 minutes after the Spurs cut a 15 point deficit to 4
- The Spurs played pretty well and still lost, which makes me even more unhappy. Their defense was poor, but on the offensive side, they shot 50% FG and 48% 3-pointers. Six players reached double-digit scoring, and Duncan continued his impersonation of 2007 Duncan, going 21/8/2/1.
- At the end of the game, like in the whole of Game 3, Oklahoma City (especially KD) brought their energy level up and out of San Antonio's reach, making me wonder if the Spurs could win a close game against the Thunder. From the looks of last night, it's hard to say.
- Woody puked in the cab.
I woke up this morning in dusty, windy, trash-covered Lubbock. No hobos were yelling per se, but when you're from the Midwest, every Texan sounds like a hobo anyways.
You were undoubtedly in a bitter mood following yesterday evening's game four ("I'm drunk and everything sucks" was the text you sent me, I believe), as your beloved Spurs now find themselves facing their first legitimate challenge of this NBA postseason.
I couldn't help but think last night that no sport's playoff tournament provides for quicker narrative changes than that of the NBA. Just a few short days ago, in the wake of a commanding game two victory, we faced a barrage of stories about how the Spurs were the greatest thing since sliced bread. No one, NO ONE, was going to stand in the way of an undefeated postseason and fifth championship in the Duncan era.
That storyline came to a screeching halt in game three, and seems like a distant memory in the wake of Oklahoma City's series-tying victory last night. Not to rub salt in an open wound, but must I remind everyone that the Thunder easily could have won game one? Had that happened, we'd be talking about the impending coronation of Kevin Durant as the go-to alpha dog in basketball.
But it didn't. Instead we'll now be treated to a best-of-three between a pair of teams looking better than their Eastern Conference counterparts.
And what a great best-of-three it will be! Can the Thunder's supporting cast maintain a relevancy that has netted them two wins? Will the Spurs remember to play defense as well as offense? All these questions, and more, will be answered in the next week.
One thing I feel confident saying, whoever wins Game 5 takes the series. If the Spurs get to 3 wins, that taste of Finals will be strong enough for them to correct mistakes from Games 3 and 4 and take one on the road. If the Thunder go back home up 3-2, San Antonio is done. Am I crazy for being so absolutist about this?
Either way, the rest of this series is going to look like Blackwater Bay, 48 minutes at a time.
While I'm sure we can count on Thunder guard James Harden for a typical spectacular performance or two in games five through seven, I'm 100% confident we won't see another eleven-for-eleven, 26-point outburst from his running mate Serge Ibaka. Ibaka's career 8.5 scoring average isn't terrible, but he's typically more Manute Bol than Hakeem Olajuwon. Yes, I hope that reference inspires nightmares of the Dream Shake burying your Spurs throughout your early childhood.
In a series between two teams as deep and talented as San Antonio and Oklahoma City, it often comes down to home court advantage. I'd imagine the AT&T Center crowd won't be eager to send the Spurs back to the blue mob in Oklahoma City down 3-2. A loss in game five would be catastrophic for their chances.
No matter what happens, this is the type of series basketball fans deserve. Team sports are too often compared to heavyweight fights, but in this case I can think of no better analogy, now that the obligatory "Game of Thrones" reference has been deployed...