The Margin: Oklahoma City Thunder 108, San Antonio Spurs 103

by

AT&T CENTER — 20 wins in a row feels so long ago. That streak ended four days ago. That’s how life goes in the playoffs. It’s less “win or go home” and more “what have you done for me lately.” After the praise and celebration that has been heaped on the Spurs over the last month or so, they stand just 48 minutes of game action away from summer vacation. You should know the drill by now, one bullet point for each actual point in the difference in final scores.

  • For all of the depth the Spurs possess on paper, only a handful of players in silver and black have produced in this series. In Game 5, five players played 30 minutes or more in the game. Only one of the remaining six players who entered Monday’s game played more than 15 minutes, Boris Diaw. Matt Bonner and Danny Green, both of whom are slumping/disappearing/choking/whatever you want to call it at the absolute worst time combined for five minutes of playing time. DeJuan Blair added seven. The Spurs have figured out who can contribute when things get tight and those are the players getting minutes. After the game Stephen Jackson was asked if he could play the full 48 minutes in Game 6. He said that before he was traded to the Spurs he was top 5 in the league in minutes; he’s ready.
  • Outside of the 3-point shooting from Manu Ginobili (5-10) and Stephen Jackson (3-6), the Spurs finished 1-8 from behind the arc in Game 5. The catch-and-shoot 3 was believed to be a significant advantage for the Spurs entering this series, but the Thunder have done a good job running the Spurs shooters off the line. Jack seems like one of the few players willing to take a shot with a hand in his face. Most other Spurs are pumping faking and putting the ball on the floor when OKC players close out, usually with no positive results to show for it. Once the Spurs dribble off the line, the Thunder is too quick and too long defensively for the Spurs to get a good shot. They need to simply take the shots that are presented to them from the arc in Game 6.
  • Kawhi Leonard had just four points and shows up as a -2 on the +/-, but was extremely valuable for the Spurs on Monday night. He grabbed 10 boards and was credited with one steal, though he deflected several passes away from Kevin Durant and made a big play on Thabo Sefalosha when the Spurs were down three points with just a few second left, knocking a pass away and off of Sefalosha in the back court. It was one of the bigger four point performances you’ll see.
  • The Spurs scored 31 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 and 28 in the third. It wasn’t the beautiful, free-flowing offense that we saw in Games 1 and 2, and really, the 30+ games prior to that, but it was an improvement. Manu Ginobili found his offensive rhythm in spades and the Spurs did more to get Tony Parker on the move away from the ball. Parker eventually started to find his favorite shooting spots that he attacked so well in Game 2, but the Thunder defense was still effective enough to keep the Spurs at bay. While San Antonio didn’t have the disastrous second quarter that they experienced in the previous two games, they still put themselves in enough of a hole in the first half to lose.
  • It’s no secret that the odds heavily favor the Thunder after winning Game 5. Even more so when OKC just won said Game 5 on the road. Luckily, though, it’s not over. The Spurs still stand a good chance doing the same thing the Thunder just did Monday night. When we’re talking a matter of just a few plays going either way, there are no absolutes in the outcome. We’re talking about the way a ball bounces here, anything can happen.
  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.upshaw.9 Andrew Upshaw

    The Thunder look great, but I still think the Spurs have a shot in game 6. The Thunder’s role players have been playing a bit over their heads and some of the Spurs (Tony parker!) haven’t been up to their usual standards. If that flips in game 6 the Spurs will win. What a great series. The best part is the fight that these teams have shown. The spurs could have given up down 101-88 but they fought back to make it a two point game with a minute left and the Thunder get lucky with that james Harden 3.
    http://4hoopsheads.com/2012/06/04/the-conference-finals-heat-or-thunder-up/

  • Art

    Bonner is not slumping in this series, he is his playoffs self. Thunder youth, length and athleticism are too much for the Spurs. Credit Brooks and his coaching staff for making defensive adjustments. 
    Spurs are going through what Bird’s Celtics went through (Pistons and Cavs overcame them). Parker going through what Magic Johnson went through when Pippen covered Johnson in ’91 NBA Finals. 

    Still hoping for Ginobili to pull another miracle next game and Jackson to be Ginobili’s Robin. 

  • Tim in Surrey

    Of course they have a shot, but they’re going to have to play a LOT better. OKC will understand the urgency of the situation and they have arguably the biggest home crowd advantage in the league. This was a golden opportunity for the Spurs but they absolutely fumbled it away with all those turnovers. They’re going to have to eliminate the careless turnovers, tighten the screws on D, and yet STILL play better if they want to win this next one. This will be the toughest situation these guys have faced since 2002.

  • http://twitter.com/Luke_Mellow Lukas Kuba

    Man this situation looks pretty awful but there’s always hope… Timmy, Manu & Tony all have to play 40+ mins in G6, that lineup with Jack & Kawhi is our best, Pop has to ride that lineup as long as he can. Forget about 10 guys in the 1st Qtr, we need to find 8 guys who really can play. I don’t worry about the Big 3 (well, Tony HAS to step up his game), Kawhi absolutely can play and Jack is an ultimate Warrior. Now… the 6th is Diaw… Bonner, Splitter, Green seem lost out there… that leaves DB as the 3rd big man in a 3-big rotation. And that leaves Neal (or Patty Mills?! oh desperate times…) as a guy who has to give us some quality mins (+ would be good if he found his shot somewhere) relieving TP and Manu, when they need a breather. “I absolutely believe we can win” has to be our mindset for 48 minutes. “Championship teams win on the road and Oklahoma City just did that. If we can’t do that Wednesday, then we’re not
    championship caliber.” Pop’s right, if the Spurs don’t win on the road and lose 4 straight to OKC, we have to tip our hats to OKC for them being the better team. It’ll suck, I just f loved this team, but real champs don’t lose four straight… Go Spurs Go!

  • NYC

    Goddamnit. If OKC can beat the Spurs four straight, they deserve to be champions. But if our boys can get it together for game 6, then it’s just one game to rule them all. And if the Spurs can get it together for game 6 and again for game 7… well, we are still the champions. Come on, silver and black. It’s not over ’til it’s over. I still believe in you! Victory is only two games away. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Sauer/645387978 Christopher Sauer

    I know this sounds blasphemous, but the Spurs best line-up in the 4th quarter was when TP went to the bench for a rest – Manu, Jack, Kawhi, Diaw, Duncan.  With Ginobili creating, this leneup can get it done on both ends. I think Pop needs to give this line-up serious consideration for extended minutes in the next game.  

    And, sorry, but even Pop deserves some criticism here – in both the 1st & 2nd halves, when he benched Duncan for early foul trouble, the Thunder went on runs.  Sorry, but sometimes you have to roll the dice, and say “f” the numbers, our season is on the line & my guy just has to be out there.

  • Spurholic in Mumbai

    How things change from a walk over of a series after Game 2, Spurs are trending down, so swiftly that their season could end within 48 hours. Game 5, I believe, was lost in the first 5minutes. Okc was tumbling down, Ibaka had two quick fouls within 57 seconds of the game, even the smooth KD was shooting clunkers, yet the Spurs were up 5-0, the score should have been been 10-0. Moreover the Spurs got OKC to tun the ball over 4x, yet could not score even a single point off those steals. They even allowed Nick Colison to out score Duncan in the Ist quarter. From then on it was a game of catch up for the Spurs, I switched off after the Ist quarter.

    Game 6, Spurs need to get the right combination, substitute Leonard with Jackson and play only 7-8 man rotation. Finally, a thought, why didn’t Coach try to burn 0.4 with Mills, maybe the speed of the youngster could have been used to upset the controlled play which 0.4 brings to the team.

    Hoping for an epic game 7 victory for the Spurs.

  • Mykenyce

    Lucky? Every Stephen Jackson 3 is lucky

  • AsGoodAs

    THIS. I felt that in the moment that was happening.

  • STIJL

    I feel the Spurs only hope is a total melt down of OKC.  I’ll wish in
    one hand and defecate in the other and see which one fills up the
    fastest.

  • Spinetrine38

    1.Sounds like you’re a really dedicated fan if you turned the game off after the 1st, a home game none the less.  What if all the fans just got up out of the stadium and left, after the 1st.  Don’t call yourself a fan if you can’t even watch a whole game.

    2.Remove Leonard from the rotation? Substitute Jackson in for him?  Jackson played 30 mins…he’s not losing minutes to Leonard.  Steven Jackson’s +/- was a negative 15.  Leonard is getting more rebounds per min of floor time than any other spur.  He’s pretty much the only bright spot you have right now, and the only Spur giving a consistently hard effort on the floor, and you wanna bench him?

    3. There are many reasons Mills doesn’t play.  I laughed a little when I saw that.

  • Adam Brunell

    Jackson going 48 minutes is great! Also there should be big minutes for Manu, Tony, Duncan, Kawhi, and Diaw. Pop needs to realize how much the bench (not including Jackson) has been struggling. The Spurs are playing excellent with their starters in the game, and awful with them out. This is it, and almost every comment on this site says the same thing:

    Pop needs to figure out the lineups that work and play his best players heavy minutes, or the Spurs are done.

  • NY Spurs Fan

    Absolutely agree. That was a huge turning point as Manu was out, too. Can not have two of big three on the bench at the same time. The greatest PF of all time can handle having 4 fouls. That was also the point when he pulled Manu who was in the midst of his incredible scoring streak. Why pull such hot player when he hasn’t indicated any lethargy. 

  • Bentley

    Agreed. OKC is the better team, as hard as that is to admit

  • Ace Smith

    I dont think the spurs have a chance in game 6, i think they have nothing to go on and no adjustments they can make! they cant beat the thunder in oklahoma and its over! i wrote all about this in my blog and also how to bet it some come read and enjoy! http://nbawagers.com/2012/06/the-young-thunder-guns-do-it-again/

  • JsSpurs

       Sorry everyone, but i have been following the spurs for almost 20 years and have witnessed these melt downs before.  This is EXACTLY the same.  The spurs are getting out hustled, out-motivated, an out executed.  This was their last chance to get a ring with this group and that is over.  watch their body language.  That game 3 beat down stole their souls.  Anyone remember David Robinson almost breakdown in his post game interview after the Lakers swept them???  I do.  That was the only time i ever boo’d that man.  This teams mental toughness and focus is seriously fractured right now.  the only players with any passion are Manu and Capt Jack.  There was all this talk about this is Paker’s team now…..well where is his fire?!   He had it game one and two.  3,4,5??  Where is he at now?  HIS team just got punked in their own house on national TV and he’s like…….”ehhhh its ok. give then credit we will play harder ”  Look i am not looking for him to be a KG or anything but a little passion!  Anger!  FIRE!!!  A little fist in the table, from the new leader of this team would be nice.  Where is calling out that “great” bench of yours that has totally cracked under pressure.     Don’t tell me about the OKC D.  Defense doesn’t take your passion.  CP3 never backed down when his team was getting pounded. 

      The most frustrating thing about all of this is that we ALL know (including POP) that if this team plays for 48 minutes.  Focused, passionately, with some nasty.  This series would be over already.   There is not a team assembled that could beat THAT spurs team.  But instead, we will hear about how confident they still are.  how they dont need to make big adjustments just play their game.  And the result will be the same as the last 3 games.  Except this time the kids will tear the spurs apart.  This game wont be close, even at tip off.  If they can’t find some heart and passion at home in a game 5 to play with.  There is no way in Gods green earth that this team will match the engry and passion of this young and hungry group with 18,000 ravenous fans behind them.

    Sorry for ranting but i just wanted to see this team go down standing up.  This mental breakdown is just a very sad way to end a GREAT season…….

  • Niyari

    Durant is not Lebronze, he does not falter. Honestly though, they just need to get back to being good with the ball. Turning it over 21 times against a team like the Thunder and expecting to win is ridiculous.

  • theghostofjh

    I disagree. You can’t leave anybody on the court with 2 fouls in the first 6-7 minutes of the game, particularly if it’s your starting bigs. The problem at that point (after TD’s 2nd foul, with just under 5 minutes left in the 1st), was that Pop employed a silly set of substitutions. He kept Blair in the game after Duncan left (with Diaw also out with two fouls), first playing him with Bonner, and shortly thereafter keeping him in as the lone big with a small-ball line-up, instead of substituting him out for Splitter. And particularly against a team like OKC, the Blair/Bonner combo, and Blair as the lone big in a small-ball line-up are no-no’s. In my view, that’s where Pop messed up. In fact, when Timmy went out we were up 15-12, and just under five minutes later, we were down 26-21, on the short end of a 14-6 Thunder run to close the quarter.

  • Niyari

     I noticed the body language as well. And while I agree with Manu and Jack being the most competitive people on the team, don’t forget Duncan!

  • theghostofjh

     Yup, that’s the key, clearly.

  • Tim in Surrey

    What are you talking about, fool? The Spurs won four championships and racked up the winningest record, not just in the NBA but in all North American professional sports, with that same attitude. If you want posing, woofing, and “body language”, I’d recommend following the Celtics, who have guys like Garnett and Rondo on their team. Of course, even then you’d probably complain about Ray Allen’s body language. Sheer idiocy…

  • Pingback: Spurs Link-And-Roll - 6.5.12 - Air Alamo - A San Antonio Spurs Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More()