Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spurs Doomed? Naahhhhh




What does that game 3 blowout in the NBA Western Conference Finals really mean?

Does the Spurs getting shanked by Oklahoma City by 20 mean that San Antonio, all of a sudden, is doomed, that their 2-0 start in this series is immaterial? Just a few days ago, this San Antonio team was lauded as invincible, boasting a twenty-game win streak, with just two losses in its last 33 games. But that booming Thunder win has Spurs followers spooked. Bulging just a few days ago, that Spurs bandwagon now has plenty of room.

Relax Spurs fans. They're not doomed. Do you really think the Thunder is suddenly 20 points better than the Spurs? Be serious.

Here's the scoop. That San Antonio loss was inevitable. That winning streak was just baggage, due to be ended by an ugly loss at some point. Smart bettors picked that game, with the Thunder favored by four, as the logical place for the streak to end. In its first home game of the series, the Thunder, desperate to avoid that 0-3 black hole, would give its best effort  Meanwhile the Spurs, with a 2-0 cushion, would relax just a little. It's human nature. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was screaming at his team to match the Thunder energy but they tuned him out. You could see that, by the third quarter, the Spurs had mentally checked out. That massive point-gap just meant that the Spurs, long before the game was over, realized it was a loss and were already thinking about tonight's game 4.

Yes, it was an ugly loss. That 82 points was the fewest the Spurs have scored since January. Their shooting was atrocious..Reliable Manu Ginobli was at his worst, making only one shot. What can you do if three of your starters--Leonard, Green and Diaw--combine for only six points? That's not likely to happen again.
Look for Tim Duncan to improve. He's overdue. In game 3, he collected only two rebounds. In the last two games, he's scored just eleven points each, on lousy 7 for 26 shooting.

What really sunk the Spurs was two Thunder adjustments. Assigned to handle little Spurs' point guard Tony Parker, big shooting guard Thebo Sefolosha thoroughly neutralized him. Also, 6-6  Ginobli could do nothing with 6-10 Serge Ibaka draped all over him.

Will the Spurs adjust to those adjustments?  Expect it, because of the Spurs ace-in-the-hole, coach Popovich. He's the best. He'll come up with something. 

Odds are still with the Spurs to win this series. For the Thunder to win it would mean, since losing the first two games, they have to ultimately beat the Spurs four out of five--now three out of four. That's a lot to ask, especially since the Spurs still have home court advantage. Both are excellent road teams, but the Thunder will have a tough time winning in San Antonio.

Despite that game 3 blowout, Oklahoma City, a three-point favorite tonight, is still a long shot to win the series. Clearly, the Thunder is no pushover. If they play like they did Thursday, this one may go seven.