Corporate Knowledge: Game 2 Reactions

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Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports: “Early in his career, Parker once dared to shake off a play call from his coach. Popovich called a timeout and blasted Parker before he could even reach the bench. ‘You know I’m crazy!’ Popovich yelled. ‘Do that again, and I’ll play Steve Kerr 95 minutes a night if I have to!’ ”

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “When he assaulted the Oklahoma City Thunder for 34 points on 21 shots in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, he had essentially none of his patented twisting, high-speed layups. He almost never navigated the forest of big men. (When he tried, they often got to it, resulting, twice, in goaltending calls.)”

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “We’ve taken a couple of hours since Game 2 ended to let this realization swirl around a bit and, possibly, settle down a tad. We’ve re-watched parts of the first half and all of the second half in order to find some footing, instead of launching into hyperbole just because the home team in a seven game series has taken the first two contests. Hours later, we’re still where we started. The San Antonio Spurs’ offense is reaching levels of unending output that I haven’t seen since Michael Jordan’s Bulls were winning their titles.”

Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “But even when the Thunder execute their strategy as soundly as their personnel allows, the Spurs are carving up Oklahoma City. There might not be anything to do; the Spurs, after all, have carved up the entire league for the last 50 games or so. But the Thunder have to try something or risk further exploitation and general paralysis on the defensive end. Players are hesitate to help each other, fearful of leaving a San Antonio shooter open or exposing a teammate in some way.”

Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman: “You get the feeling the Spurs are just toying with these kids. After leading 80-58 in the third quarter, the Spurs went away from Parker and allowed the Thunder to get back into the game. OKC cut the deficit to six points midway through the fourth quarter, but the Thunder couldn’t get close enough because Parker wouldn’t allow his team to give the game away.”

Royce Young of Daily Thunder: “I appreciated the way Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook approached their postgame presser because they didn’t do a lot of talking about the Spurs “holding serve” or any of that usual bullcrap. They were mad. They wanted not just one win in San Antonio, but two. And they came away with none.”

J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “You don’t want to get into a shooting contest with the Spurs. They’re the top team in the playoffs in 3-point field goal percentage and overall field goal percentage. (And if you think that’s just a case of getting hot lately, they won both of those categories in the regular season, too). It’s tough to get to the basket because they crowd the lane and protect the rim so well.”

Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop: “Popovich is a sharer who, over time, has welcomed input from those with new ideas. Once players earn Popovich’s trust, they’re integral to that process — Duncan the prime example. Also, Popovich’s offensive system very much relies on players to make reads, ultimately putting important on-court decisions in the hands of his key players.”

Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop, again: “Was Parker the prime beneficiary of a perfect Spurs offense, or was the offense perfect because Parker was driving it? Probably a little bit of both. Once the drive-and-kick game is established, the ball tends to find its way back to the team’s best penetrator. When it did, Parker found seams in a Thunder defense that didn’t know where the help was coming from quickly enough — strong side, weak side, top, baseline? Oklahoma City wasn’t atrocious, and Durant made a number of timely help rotations, but on a night like Tuesday, Parker gives a defense no latitude to deliberate.”

Matthew Tynan of Pounding the Rock: “There were plenty of abnormalities in the opening game of the series. The Spurs committed 14 first-half turnovers, Serge Ibaka didn’t play in the fourth quarter, James Harden was quite inefficient and Derek Fisher was nearly perfect. But in Game 2 there was both a progression and regression back to individual means. But, really, it had already happened in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, when San Antonio rolled off 39 points in the deciding frame. Since Pop unleashed his “I want some nasty” timeout speech, the Spurs have outscored the Thunder 159-138 over the past five quarters of basketball, a number that seemed like it might be more uneven at the start of the final 12 minutes of Game 2.”

Matt Moore at Eye On Basketball: “Up 16, down 16, up 20, down 20, up two, down two, doesn’t matter. Gregg Popovich expects the same effort, the same performance, the same execution when it matters. He’ll sit Parker in regular season games late in the season, in key matchups. But when he plays him, he has the highest of expectations for his floor general. It’s not about Parker. Parker could be veteran Stephen Jackson, Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan, rookie Kawhi Leonard, backup Gary Neal. The process is the same.”

Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld: “San Antonio values defense, only cares about winning and prefers to be out of the spotlight. Leonard is a man of few words, just like Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. From day one, the small forward stepped in and knew his role, earning minutes by playing excellent defense and knocking down open looks. After ten games, Popovich inserted Leonard into the starting lineup, where he has remained for much of the season.”

Rob Mahoney at Bleacher Report: “Russell Westbrook actually appeared to do a solid job of locking in on Parker and fighting through screens on first watch, but it’s a testament to both Parker and San Antonio’s complete concept that even Westbrook’s best efforts were ultimately in vain.”

Kyle Boenitz of Project Spurs: “Again, free throw shooting could end up being crucial. The only success the Thunder had last night is when they went to the hack-a-Splitter strategy and slowed the Spurs down. It’s surprising because going in to the series, I would have thought a fast-paced game would favor the Thunder. Clearly that’s not the case. The Thunder know that now and if they’re smart, they’ll start playing rough-and-tough basketball. The Spurs are going to have to start making their free throws because right now, that’s the only offensive weakness they have.”

Sebastian Pruiti at Grandland: “Parker has also changed the way he plays pick-and-rolls. He comes off of screens looking to get in the paint, but he doesn’t force it. Instead, he will kick the ball back to his big, follow his pass, and get another ball screen. Sometimes, he will need a third screen, but the Spurs patiently wait for the defense to commit an error that they can exploit. The Spurs have previously run successive pick-and-rolls, but they are doing it at a much higher rate this series.”

  • Frank Ameka

    Ahhhh.. to be a Spurs Fan! We are so spoiled!

  • STIJL

     Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop

    You know…this rings so true.  It’s almost as on the offensive side of the court Pop allows his players to make the decisions and not adhere to a regimented implementation of a play.  It’s almost street ball in a since to watch this team execute on the offensive end.  Yet they do it with the precision of a military drill team.

    Defensively…Pop runs the show.  And though they are not the defensive stoppers they once were…this team plays some of the best defense for not having more than one (Duncan) big man on the team that can dominate the post on defense.  Pop’s help strategy and focus on preventing a top producing opponent from getting their points without shooting as many to get those points is unheralded as genius and almost stealth in execution to the point opponent coaches cannot counter the moves before it is too late.

    What a great combination of trust in his players and trust in a coach by the players to execute such precision manifested basketball yet do it with individual flare and execution.

    One of these days somebody will do their best to explain/describe/define this year’s Spurs…which I think will be like trying to describe what it was like actually being somewhere in a journey yet not actually being there in that journey.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Just curious… Whatever happened to all the fans of this site who used to continually demand that we trade Parker, or that we desperately needed somebody like Lou Amundsson, or that our championship window had closed years ago? Anybody seen them lately? Do we need to put out an Missing Persons Report for TradeTP?

  • Jimbo

    I for one thought for sure after the playoffs last year that the Spurs’ window was shut.  Duncan and Manu looked like they were breaking down and it didn’t seem like Parker could carry the team by himself.  Several years had passed since the aging team had looked good in the playoffs.  The Spurs had serious deficiencies, especially defensively, in the frontcourt.  They lacked size and athleticism on the wings, and had serious issues at small forward especially.  The fact that the Spurs got the #1 seed the last 2 years and are absolutely dominating the NBA right now is a pleasant shock to me.  Not to take away anything from the players (I love them all), but I think so much of the credit goes to Pop.  I honestly think he may be the greatest coach in NBA history.  If someone like Vinny Del Negro were coaching this team, I think they’d be a first round playoff team and nothing more.  They are not a team overflowing with talent- they just know how to play basketball.  

  • theghostofjh

    A few points to consider:

    (1) Duncan’s knee has achieved nothing short of a miracle this season. I don’t know what potion he used, but it worked. And nobody could have predicted it, probably not even TD himself.

    (2) The FO and Pop have both been brilliant and lucky in the last two years. On a tiny budget, to add the following players, and get what we’ve gotten out them, is both amazing and incredibly fortunate: Neal, Green, Leonard, Jackson, and Diaw. Without those players doing what they do, we would not be true contenders this year. Neal & Green were essentially castoffs, Leonard would be a Junior at SDSU, and was not even a lottery pick, and Jackson & Diaw are journeymen that suddenly became available, and happened to be perfect fits for the team.

    (3) On top of all that, the big three, without getting any younger, have all managed to stat healthy at the most important time, like right now (knock on wood!).

    So yes, Pop and the FO have done a GREAT job, but we’ve also been incredibly fortunate to this point.