El Conclusion: Disappointing night as Thunder even up series

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San Antonio Spurs 92 Final

Recap | Box Score

105 Oklahoma City Thunder
Tim Duncan, PF 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -14
Probably played the best of any starters, but didn’t look incredibly effective. Pop did start to run the offense through him before the starters got pulled. It worked in the sense that the wing players started moving a little more, but whether it was turnovers or whatever else, nothing went right for the starters.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 25 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -20
Scored six points real early in the game and then started forcing shots early in the shot clock. Kevin Durant got in the lane for too easily and Kawhi didn’t even have foul trouble to blame. He’ll be fine, he just didn’t have it tonight.

Tiago Splitter, C 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -13
Not a ton of aggression tonight, which brings me to weird thought. We want Tiago to be aggressive even if he doesn’t have the physical tools to just go up and get a bucket. Does it sound weird if I say I’d like to see him be aggressive, but also use some pump fakes and try to draw fouls. I guess I want him to be aggressive and smart under the basket.

Tony Parker, PG 26 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -18
He looked great early and did that thing in the second quarter and early in the third where he stops attacking. Not sure if he thought it was a lost cause or OKC figured him out, but he needs to keep his foot on the gas. No fast break points for the Spurs. That’s on Tony.

Danny Green, SG 15 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -8
Didn’t defend well, couldn’t get his shot off. And the turnovers were killer.

Aron Baynes, PF 12 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +9
Missed a lot of random tip-ins, but he was extra aggressive and hustled, which is all you can ask for in the extended garbage minutes.

Matt Bonner, PF 16 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +12
Shot looks clean. I don’t think he will, but could you see Bonner getting a little bit of burn to pull Ibaka away from the basket?

Boris Diaw, PF 30 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -11
I was ready to give him a F, but he got aggressive in the second and looked great against whoever was defending him. As they said on the broadcast, it’s the best thing that could’ve happened to Boris’ confidence.

Jeff Ayres, C 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +3
Eh, whatever.

Patty Mills, PG 10 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +1
I’m just not sure he should be getting a ton of run this series because he really struggles defensively. Having said that, if Reggie Jackson is limited going forward, Mills may be able to stay on the court.

Cory Joseph, PG 17 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11
Five fouls shows he was maybe too aggressive, but man was it nice to see someone go right at Russell Westbrook. And Serge Ibaka. In case you didn’t see the Ibaka dunk, find it. You won’t have to search for long.

Manu Ginobili, SG 11 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -10
He didn’t do anything good tonight, but also didn’t get a ton of minutes to do good. He’ll be fine.

Marco Belinelli, SG 25 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -7
Looked better during garbage time then he has all season, but he shouldn’t be on the court against these athletes.

Gregg Popovich
I think this is the game that showed some adjustments need to be made.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Pop said postgame the Spurs just need to play better and harder. That’s true, but some adjustments wouldn’t hurt. First, and this was suggested by others, I’d start Boris Diaw. This would pull Ibaka away from the basket a little more and also allow Manu and Tiago to run the pick and roll against non Serge line ups in the second unit.
  2. I’m not saying Patty Mills shouldn’t be playing, but Cory Joseph should definitely get some minutes. Maybe Mills still gets his minutes, but CoJo gets Belinelli’s minutes. Could you play both with Kawhi? Manu?
  3. Oklahoma City’s doing a good job pressuring the Spurs perimeter passing. Some back cuts might get the Thunder defender to back off a bit (except for Russell Westbrook, who will continue to overplay the passing lanes).
  • Dapimp Ofdayear

    The spacing and body movement was bad. Whenever a Spur ventured towards the hoop, the Thunder defense would just collapse around him and close up the kick out lanes. The other Spurs off the ball have to start moving since the entire Thunder team is watching whoever gets the ball in the painted area. Cut back door, flash out for an open jumper, move to a spot on the floor where the ball handler can both see you and get the pass out to you. And how about some pass fakes to get these OKC defenders jumping a bit.

    It goes without saying that the Spurs must win Game 5, or they’re done. Doesn’t seem like they can win at OKC.

  • Riotsmoke

    Only one word to some these last two games up: effort… and a definitively lack thereof. I’m proud of the bench for stepping up tonight and turning what easily could have been the worse game I’ve ever seen the Spurs big three play into something competitive. I REALLY hope the starters saw that because effort is what drives everything.. It’s what opens up passing lanes, it’s what gets the crowd involved, and more importantly it’s like an instantaneous disease that catches on when everyone contributes. I’m really disappointted with the starters tonight. Not even upset, angry, or mad, but that disappointted feeling you get when you’re kid the car for some stupid reason.

    Effort, effort, effort. This series has now turned into who can hold HCA. I like the idea of starting Boris, but I would also counter with maybe starting Manu over Green. My logic is simply that, outside of spot-up shooting Danny is getting eaten alive by the Thunder D. Also, by countering with Manu that gives us another ball handler to drive and kick with. Right now the Thunder D seems honed in on Tony like a magnet. Having another penetration threat out there with him seems ideal. Also given Jackson’s status on quick turnaround has me also thinking he’s not going to be 100% out there with a rolled ankle.

    On a lighter note, I’m somewhat inspired by the bench to how much they kept the Thunder starters out there for some seriously extended minutes. Both Westbrook and Durant played over 40+ minutes in a game which they easily could have rested late but it has me thinking Scott Brooks wanted to drive some point across with them. Either way, the way I see it we got both thermonuclear games from Durant and Wearbrook out of the way along with the crap game from the starters, and finally some solid minutes from the bench guys that hopefully translates to solid production down the line. Yeah this is me being optimistic, but SA has gotta bring it in Game 5. No more of the chess/checkers bullshit.. It’s about winning. To borrow a quote from Starship Troopers.. “Everyone fights, no one quits”. If the Spurs want this, they’re gonna go have to want it and more importantly go get it. Let’s see what happens. GSG

  • AHeights

    Mills sucks this series. His shot is AWOL. I think he had an airball, and he kept hitting the front of the rim. Bench him for Cory Joseph. One of the TNT guys made a good point that it’s better to bang into the chest of a shotblocker instead of trying to finesse around him. You can’t dodge Ibaka’s long arms, so ram into him and force the refs to blow their whistles. At least Cory Joseph did that.

    Play Baynes over Splitter. Splitter is too soft out there, it’s embarrassing watching him hoping the refs will bail him out. At one point he was upset about getting hacked with no foul so on the other end of the court he blantantly flopped. The refs ignored him while the Thunder player just stepped over him. Baynes can do a better job of boxing out Perkins and Adams and fighting for rebounds.

    Looking forward to next year, which is probably the final good year of the Big 3’s window, the Spurs need to acquire a couple of players besides Leonard who can run and jump. Ayres was an attempt in that direction but he sucks really bad.

  • Graham

    Like’s been tossed around on the web, Game Film should be that 4th quarter. Pop can say to the starters: “OUR THIRD STRING IS OUT THERE EXECUTING THE OFFENSE AND GETTING RESULTS! IMAGINE WHAT YOU GUYS COULD DO!!!!!”

    I think a CoJo-Mills-Manu-Leonard-Splitter Lineup could be interesting as a reserve group, if we shift Diaw to start and keep Splitter with Manu. CoJo’s more than willing to get at Westbrook on the defensive end and is heady enough to exploit Westbrook on offense with endless backdoor cuts.

  • td4life

    If I’m Pop I give CoJo at least a little bit of run earlier in Game 5 to see how he does, and go from there. Likewise, trot out Bonner early in the fourth and see if he can’t make a positive difference. Obviously, TP and KL need to play a hell of a lot better the rest of the series.

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  • spursfan74

    All I know is that the OKC fans are as classless as their team. I definitely think that the refs need to give out technical fouls for unsportsmanship behavior because Westbrook is a little punk and Perkins is a THUG. Our guys need to match the intensity and may be do what Cory Joseph did and slam a dunk down Ibaka’s throat. That was the highlight of the game for me.

  • Bussman

    I don’t start with Boris because he is a liability on defense… His numbers in the postseason are terrible in plus/minus and defensive ratings… He played well in garbage time and still was minus 11…

    I think Trevor hates Matt Bonner, but the Red Mamba is always and effort guy… And his shoot is more reliable than anything… With Tony and Manu going to the paint there is a very good chance of Ibaka trying to get a block and the Red Mamba is set free behing the arc…

  • SpurredOn

    I’d play CoJo over Marco; this isn’t the series for the latter. No shame in that as each series is about new matchups, plus CoJo showed in this game he deserves some minutes. His ball handling and willingness to cut to the basket are helpful, and lus he’s a better defender than Marco.

    I’d give Bonner a few minutes in each half when Ibaka is out there just to space the floor and create a new look. All else aside, Diaw finding his shot and the team no longer wasting chances to run possessions through him in the post, plus returning home should right all. OKC fees off their crowd and becomes a better front-running team than Miami. In three of the four losses there this season, the Spurs were near even or ahead except for one awful quarter of bad offense which takes away the ability to play team defense. It’ll be nice to get home and see our guys play with desperation, for they are again in a must-win home game just as gms 5 & 7 vs Dallas.

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  • brunostrange

    “the future of the franchise” sure ain’t playing like it.

  • camnpat

    Corey Joseph should definitely be playing more than garbage minutes. Back when TP, Manu, Green, and Leonard were injured he showed he could run the offense, he is a good mid range shooter, he is fast and not afraid to drive to the basket, he is a good defender, and he is tall for a point guard meaning that he can defend the same people Green and Manu are defending (for all his intensity Mill’s height can be exploited by some of the taller guards).

  • fkj74

    We need to put some Thunder payers on thier butt’s!! Go to the floor for loose balls. Basically some fight. Put Leonard on Westbrook, Bonner minutes to stretch the floor, and Diaw to start. An idea for an effective line-up…Manu, Leonard, TD, Bonner, Diaw. Game 5 is big. must win. Go Spurs!

  • Vertebral

    Did you notice that when Corey and crew were in the game, pushing the ball up court and actually moving the ball side to side, that Pop got up from the bench and stood in front of the starters and yelled at them. I imagine he was saying that this is Spurs basketball.

  • camnpat

    Oooohhh… I missed that!!! I think you are right about what he was saying. It was that group, after all, that cut what were 20 point OKC leads in the last two games to 7 and 11 respectively.