The Margin: Oklahoma City Thunder 107, San Antonio Spurs 99

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The Spurs fell to the Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. There are other media outlets that will give you a more comprehensive look at Game 6 or a more objective look, but that’s their job. We’re here to tell you how we see it. You know the drill for The Margin. One bullet for every point in the difference of the final score. Make sure you touch the line each time.

  • The Spurs scored 34 points in the first quarter and 36 points in the second half. What more should I say? If you watched the game, you understand.
  • Tim Duncan’s hesitation from the mid-range in the third quarter didn’t help the Spurs. Sebastian Pruiti mentioned it on our podcast Wednesday, and even more so on Grantland, but that was a big key for the Spurs. Duncan was aggressive from 15-18 feet in the first half and not so much in the second. San Antonio could’ve used some decisiveness.
  • I love Kawhi Leonard as much as anyone, but he struggled in the second half. He made a lot of mental mistakes, especially defensively, that helped do in the Spurs. Re-watch the game and view how many second half possessions that end in a Thunder basket and Stephen Jackson pointing to Kawhi where he should’ve been. Leonard will be a special player in the NBA, but he’s still a 20-year-old rookie in the Western Conference Finals.
  • Danny Green could’ve cost himself a lot of money during these Western Conference Finals, while potentially saving the Spurs millions. It’s amazing how these things turn out.
  • We saw a lot of possible narratives fall with the Spurs tonight. Included with the group were the “offense can win championships,” “you can go 10 deep in the playoffs,” and “Stephen Jackson is a crazy person” story lines. The final one is the only one I enjoyed.
  • I was really hoping Spurs Sports & Entertainment could’ve captured the elusive championship double involving a D-League title and NBA championship, proving definitively that they were the best franchise in professional basketball.
  • This was probably my favorite Spurs team of all-time. The personalities involved mixed with the mish-mash of youth and veterans. That said…
  • …defense wins championships.
  • Bladrew

    Elementary kids aren’t privy to a referee officiating their games, try harder with your analogies. How does vowing to not watching sports equate to having a shallow life?

    I would argue that trolling the losing team’s blog is more indicative of a shallow life. Why can’t you go “embrace life” on the Thunder blog?

  • STIJL

    Yup…I thought it a tad over reactinary to Splitter by Pop that when Splitter made a poor judgement he was yanked and (for all purposes) told to forget about being part of this team.   I think we saw the worse in Pop in this game and in many cases… this series.

    But it was tough all around for everybody involved…cool heads definately didn’t prevail.

  • Lvmainman

    Got to agree with you. I said before the playoffs, if Pop goes back to shrinking the rotation or playing Duncan/Ginobili over 32 minutes a game the Spurs were toast.
    For game 5, at least Pop should have had faith in Green. Role players play better at home and Pop didn’t give him a chance to prove that point.

    I’m still baffled why Pop benched Diaw with 4 fouls and Ginobili with 5 fouls. This was the last game of the year, if they foul out, so what? Diaw ended the game with 4 fouls and Ginobili ended with 5 fouls.

  • Mark H

    We lost the series not because of in-game errors by Pop but because our defense was sub-par (though better than last year).  If we are to climb back into championship contention, we need to make our defense as dynamic as our offense was (most of the time).   

  • Len

    That charge on Manu that Harden took was ATROCIOUS.  I might even give it worst call of the night, tbh.

  • deeds130

     Ditto. OKC was probably my second favorite team, but I too would be inclined to root for Boston since I’ve always liked most of their players, and am a Rondo believer. I won’t watch the finals regardless of the matchup, though. In fact, when I turned off the tv last night I was so disgusted by the NBA officiating that I decided to cancel my cable. I’ve truly had my fill of Joey Crawford, and this was on another level… just unbelievable. The NBA lost a long-time fan here, as I did cancel my cable this morning.

    That said, I never expected SA to win it all this year… I’ve argued incessantly that defense wins championships in the NBA, and that TD needed REAL help. But, I think this is the first healthy Duncan team not to hoist a trophy, so it was sad to see. Pop & Co can’t blame losing a playoffs series on the refs. Losing 4 in a row was disgraceful. But this particular game was a joke. It should easily have gone to 7 games. I find it impossible to give of my attention when the purity of a beautiful competition has given way to capitalist fraud. It’s sad how little practical value the truth seems to have in the world anymore. The majority of fans won’t ever even know or care how things go down, and just give into the hype of it all. It’s the same in so many areas of modern life, and it’s a real shame that top-level athletic competition cannot be pure either.

  • http://twitter.com/ManuginOBilly Manugin O’Billy

     I’ve got one word for you: JoeyCrawford.

  • TD BestEVER

     Guest is a lying sack of shhhhhhhhhhhh….. And a troll to boot….. game 5 FT atempts

    Spurs – 14-18

    OKC – 25-31

    So OKC basically WON EVERY Game from the FT line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Guest

     To laugh.

    Troll > bitch

  • theghostofjh

    Yeah, well said. I totally concur.

  • Spurs1fan1

    I love the Spurs and Pop. But I must say it seems he panicked. His coaching was lacking perspective. Maybe the Admiral should be the coach. My vote- out with Popovich. Seriously he has to go. The sooner the better.

  • JAWS3

    That’s EXACTLY how I feel.  OKC can ball.  Maybe they beat us anyway, but the refs gave too many away for me to still have this sick feeling that we lost to TWO opponents on Monday night, not one!  It was the same way when we played the Lakers years ago; we had to outright beat them; in a close game the refs always favored them.  I still remember the 0.4 shot in 2004 from Derrick Fisher, I asked myself if that game was in LA and Kobe had hit the go-ahead shot would there be ANY time left on the clock for the Spurs to get a chance at winning?

  • JAWS3

    I won’t be watching either for the same reasons.  Don’t care who wins between Celtics and Heat.  Don’t care who wins NBA title.  Until you guys brought it up, I wasn’t even thinking about the “Joey Crawford effect” on the Spurs winning.  It’s always a bad combination.

    That being said, the Spurs could use an athletic big that can REALLY defend, but this team WAS good enough to win the NBA title. I was so shocked with how our bench shrunk on the big stage.  Bonner is useless in the playoffs.  Danny Green, Gary Neal and Splitter did not play well. 

    The series was not lost due to the Spurs big 3 getting old or Durant dominating.  It was lost by the OKC bench outplaying ours and our bench leaving our older starters out to dry, plus a little bit of help from the refs.

  • NYC

    Well, aren’t you a winner. Have fun trolling. 

  • Finger Michael

    Easy to be a great defensive team when you get the calls.  Fouls were even after 3 quarters, ended with +6 against the Spurs.  All were asking for is that the calls would be fair.  They weren’t.

  • FanaticoDeLosThunder

    I do not come here to boast in my team’s win. I came to read comments from a fanbase that I generally like and to ‘pay my respects’ so to speak. After reading through most of the comments, my gut reaction was to respond with my point of view with regard to the calls in game 6 (and other prior games during the series in order to offer perspective, mostly because it’s hard to see Harden be derided when I see similar qualities in other Spurs players). But I won’t do that while ya’ll are down. There is no real need. And for the record, Thunder fans also HATE Joey Crawford and hate to see his name on the refs list before playoff games. He loves the spotlight and he should be banned from any post season games IMO. 

    With that said, Congratulations on your team’s wild success this year and a well-played, entertaining, and epic series. I have had season tickets to Thunder games since season 1 (and season tickets to Hornets when they were here). We also traveled to San Antonio for game 1 a couple weeks back. We were mostly treated Very well during and after the game and I appreciated that; and enjoyed the after-game cover band outside of the arena. I can’t say the same type of fans exist elsewhere.  

  • Rohanroken

    bullshit referee on game 6……….!!!!!!!!!!!!! they are all favor on thunder…!!!!!!!!

  • STIJL

     Spot on.

  • FireRickBarnes

    Not to mention all those Serge Ibaka should-have-been goaltends

  • theghostofjh

    No question, your team can ball. OKC played really well in this series. However, there’s NO question that the Thunder were given game 6. In particular, the gross imbalance of calls against the Spurs since late 3rd period to the end (the phase of the game where calls can be most crucial to the ultimate outcome) were entirely unacceptable, and denied my team a legitimate chance of reaching the finals by getting a game 7 at home. I’ve never seen anything so outrageous in my life. I appreciate the grace you’ve shown in your comment, but it would be nice if you’d also admit that the Spurs were in fact screwed by the refs in the late stages of game six.

  • FanaticoDeLosThunder

    I’m sorry but I can’t give you the satisfaction you want. I don’t agree. 
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Paterson/100000762584235 John Paterson

    Well your right in every thing you just said right there and the Spurs did get cheated at the end of Game 6. But thus the truth about the entire series. 

    http://forums.prosportsdaily.com/showthread.php?p=22475960#post22475960 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Paterson/100000762584235 John Paterson
  • theghostofjh

    I’m not surprised. Winning for most fans, and money for the league is far more important than truth. Game six of this series is irrefutable proof of that.

    “it’s hard to see Harden be derided when I see similar qualities in other Spurs players.”

    And just so you know, I have only kind words about Harden. My complaints about this game/series are strictly about the refs, not about the Thunder players.

  • Riggies

    I want to see Harden bump Jackson like that somewhere not on the basketball court without thousands of fans watching……….

  • Riggies

     ’94-95?  You talkin’ about the Rockets?  The Spurs got beat by the Rockets pretty good without much sympathy.  Other than unrealistic expectations by Spurs fans, the Rockets were better. Much better.  Robinson simply didn’t have the imposing will on a series that Olajuwon had at that time and simply was not meant to be.  The Spurs went down 0-2 on their home court to come back and win 2 on the Rockets floor that year but Olajuwon, Smith, Horry, Maxwell et al had too much moxie.  I remember that series well.  That was the first year Spurs fans were dealt a false hope in over a decade to win a title.  Seriously, who could have expected a title with Del Negro as our starting pg?

  • Riggies

     Carlesimo?  I stopped reading after you said that.

  • Thegame901

    Ever notice that teams when they lose always have issues with the refs?  The Thunder are just a better team…plain and simple. They never had to double Duncan, so they stayed home on the shooters.  The refs had nothing to do with Matt Bonner and Danny Green being erased from the box score entirely.

  • Ananuri

     I have posted this at Pounding the Rock already, and it seems like I should post it here as well. theghostofjh answered your post, you didn’t agree (as expected), so now you can go back to thunder
    forum, gloat there and be happy that your team is league’s darling. I
    hope very much that Wade and Lebron will get all those calls which
    Parker, Duncan and Ginobili couldn’t get. This is SA spurs blog site,
    and we do not need unsolicited opinion from somebody who started to
    watch quality basketball 3 years ago. Be happy that Portland was dumb
    and left Durant for you to pick, and express all your opinions on your
    blog, please.

    One more thing – that has already been told probably, but I’m so upset
    that haven’t read any blogs or watched any basketball until now, so I
    might have missed it. As soon as I saw joey crowford, I knew that we
    were in trouble. League kind of has this secret weapon which it can put
    against spurs any time it wishes. Can Spurs organization officially do
    something about crowford officiating any of the Spurs games, especially
    elimination games in the PLAYOFFS? If I remember correctly, he was the
    referee in 2008 when we played lakers, and obvious fall wasn’t called on
    the Barry. He might not do any outrageous stuff any more, but there is a
    man in the position of power on the floor, who is supposed to be
    neutral, and who hates Spurs. Everybody knows that, and league still
    uses him – as a weapon against Spurs.

    Oh well, time to go and root for Wade like I did in 2006. But after
    this series, and watching Boston-heat’s earlier games (haven’t watched
    last 2), it is much easier to root for lebron-wade than for
    durant-westbrook-perkins-hurden-ibaka.

  • Ananuri

     How was OKC a better team? We say Parker didn’t penetrate much, but when you are getting hit on the head and not getting the call, while other team gets call if they fall and there is a spur in the neighborhood – is that a sign of a better team? They are very good team and they made some clutch baskets, but they had a lot of help as well. In game 4, I do not even remember how many goaltends Ibaka had.

  • FanaticoDeLosThunder

    You got me tagged.

  • FanaticoDeLosThunder

    I never gloated. 
    And I didn’t offer unsolicited opinion. I stated I was tempted to after reading through the comments but chose not to, mostly because, like you say, this is a SA Spurs blog. I came to Congratulate. If someone engages with me and asks me to admit something I don’t believe, then I will respond. The only issue is this blog was linked on ESPN, so while it’s local, during the playoffs you’re going to have people from around the country come and read and even comment. I tried not to step on anyone’s toes. Apologies. 

  • theghostofjh

    Not surprisingly, you missed the point entirely.

  • theghostofjh

    Thanks, but the post at that link is the dumbest I’ve ever seen.

  • Ananuri

    Apologies if it came harsh, but in vast majority of cases, I’m against posting by fans on another team’s blog – especially argumentative posts.  I read a lot of other team’s blogs, but do not post there. And your post is one of the reason why.  Majority of us think that Thunder had a lot of unfair calls going their way, which contributed to their winning the game six and the series (I thought they won game 4 like that as well – ibaka committing 3 goaltends which was never called). You are fan of the Thunder. And you have your opinion, coming here and stating that this was not true. And neither of us changed our opinions, because that’s what we are. I think you are biased, that bias at this moment is directed against the spurs, supporting Joey Crawford’s decisions. I do not come at Spurs blog to hear ANTISPUR BIASED COMMENTS. If I want to read these, I will go to Thunder or Lakers blog – and I do, I read, hear their opinion, but do not post, because that is useless – no posting of me on lakers blog will change their mind that Kobe Bryant is the greatest player of all time, will only upset them, and gets me kicked out of their blog – which is probably fair, because it’s their blog, where lakers fans can express their opinions. ESPN has places which does not belong to either team, so everybody can post their opinions there, I believe.
    About gloating – however polite you post was, the fact is that you came to our blog and told us that we were all whiners, and that Thunder won fair and square. Response was given to you, and you didn’t agree, because fans never do! So this is not really an argument, but the statement of opinion by an opposing team’s fan (which is short for fanatic, as we know). If we want to hear these opinions, than these are SOLICITED ones, and they are specifically invited to do so (roundtables, etc.) – that’s what I mean when I said unsolicited. And these roundtables are not the places of the argument, but only hearing of the other team’s representative’s opinion. Their cannot be argument between fans of different teams – that will quickly devolve into something nasty. Argument in my opinion means that there is a chance one of the sides might change the opinion, which is virtually never a case between the fans of the opposing teams.
    Best luck to you personally (not to the THUNDER), but I’m miserable now, and want to share this misery and alleviate it with people who think and feel approximately the same in this particular matter – that championship has been stolen from us.  You coming here with your FORMED OPINION WHICH YOU WILL NOT CHANGE and telling us (indirectly) that we are whiners and do not understand basketball, on spur’s blog, does not really help it. It can only irritate us (at least me), and it yes, feels like gloating.

  • Tyler

    That doesn’t make sense. 

    If the league rigged everything to maximize money, why would they rig game 6 and not let the series go to a game 7? One more extra gate and TV money for the league….seriously, two of the smallest markets were competing for the conference title.

    I hate the rigged argument. People point to everything that appears to be suspicious (i.e. everything that doesn’t go their team’s way) and say it’s rigged, yet overlook the vast amount of things that turn in their favor….

  • Tyler

    So you shouldn’t be allowed to post on this blog unless you’re a Spurs fan?!?

    C’mon, seriously?

  • Tyler

    Even if you’re a biased Spurs fan (which I am), you have to admit Harden is taking a page out of Manu’s book. Look, I love Manu, but if you don’t think he flops quite a bit, you must not be watching games.

  • FanaticoDeLosThunder

    honestly no hard feelings. 
    i will consider your post next time I think about commenting on another team’s blog. i should’ve kept it simple and just said congrats and we hate crawford, too. or maybe just congratulations. by the way, i have quite a bit of family with roots in san antonio and to a lesser degree in south austin. 

  • theghostofjh

    In my comment, I wasn’t arguing the comparison.  The basis of my comment was generated from the following portion of Neil B’s comment:

    ” …… but it’s very much a taste of your own medicine.”

    To me, that sounds like a disgruntled Sun’s fan (I have a friend who’s one), happy that the Spurs finally had their “karma moment” for all the things that Manu & others “got away with” over the years, which as you know, persistently resulted in series’ losses for the Suns. And so I stick by the comment for this very reason. It sounded a tad vindictive to me. And I simply wasn’t in the mood for that kind of crap.

    And by the way, it wasn’t just flopping that played a distinct role in deciding this series in favor of the Thunder. Far from it. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many goal tends called as blocks in my entire life. After all, pinning it to the board is a pretty easy call to make. Ridiculous.

  • Len

    I tend to agree.  I don’t think this was some orchestrated conspiracy by Stern & co.  This was just a case of a referee with no impartiality who displayed his bias in the most crucial of time.

  • Len

    What a silly generalization.  I’m blaming the refs for losing games 3,4 or 5.  I’m not saying that the Spurs would have won the series if not for the refs.  

    I’m saying that the last couple mins of the 3rd qtr and the 4th qtr of game 6, the refs blew several calls.  And all of those calls favored the Thunder.  I’m not even saying that the Spurs would have certainly won the game if the refs don’t make all those bad calls.

    I’m saying that the game would have ended very differently.  The Spurs should have had at least 2 more possessions and at least 3 more points while the Thunder should have had at least 2 less foul shots. 

    And I’m certainly not saying that the Spurs would have won game 7, if it would have happened.  I’m upset that the chance that it could happen was taken away by the refs.

  • Len

    Should read “I’m not blaming the refs for losing games 3, 4 or 5.”

  • theghostofjh

    “That doesn’t make sense.”

    Maybe to you it doesn’t, but it makes plenty of sense.

    ” ….. why would they rig game 6 and not let the series go to a game 7?”

    Did you ever think it might simply be too hard to rig a game against a team in their own building? After all, the imbalance in calls was so extreme in game 6, if the same thing happened in SA, you might have even had a riot at the arena. Seriously.

    Not only that, but the Spurs tend to play a bit better at home, so it’s quite likely that the calls would have had to be even more blatant and egregious to give the Thunder the win in SA. It was simply not a feasible option. The risk would simply be too great that they couldn’t pull it off without a severe uproar, and potential scandal.

    “I hate the rigged argument.”

    Perhaps you hate it because as a devoted fan of the NBA, you want to go on justifying your continued allegiance by denying that the league is now engaged in deliberately corrupt practices? After all, to do otherwise would be complicit, would it not, which is something that your self-perception could not accept, and so it is simply denied subconsciously.

    ” ……. yet overlook the vast amount of things that turn in their favor….”

    This is simply not the case. At least not for me. Of course the Spurs got
    some calls! And I’ve looked at everyone of those calls as well. But the fact is, the “balance” of calls in game six, particularly in the pivotal 2nd half, were “clearly” in the favor of the Thunder, and to the point of deciding the game in their favor. I’m confident that a panel of independent experts would concur.

  • Tyler

    Wow. It appears that despite the overwhelming evidence against the “rigged” claim, I’m probably not changing your opinion.

    I’ll leave you with one thought – SA is one of the smallest markets in the NBA, yet has gone on one of the greatest (if not the greatest) runs in modern sports history. If it was really rigged, why would those pulling the strings ever let that happen. Better yet, as a fan of that small market team, you turn around and say it’s all rigged? Surely you can see the irony in that viewpoint.

  • theghostofjh

    For one thing, it wasn’t just one ref. For another, there were simply way too many bad calls that CLEARLY favored one team over the other. As a result, in my view it had to be deliberately orchestrated to some extent. Either that, or it was EXTREMELY bad luck for the Spurs, in the sense that all the bad calls against us just happened to cluster at key moments in the 2nd half of game six. As far as I’m concerned, the odds simply favor calculated deceit over unprecedented bad luck in this case.

  • theghostofjh

    “It appears that despite the overwhelming evidence against the “rigged” claim, I’m probably not changing your opinion.”

    And what “overwhelming” evidence are you referring to, might I ask?

    “I’ll leave you with one thought – SA is one of the smallest markets in the NBA, yet has gone on one of the greatest (if not the greatest) runs in modern sports history. If it was really rigged, why would those pulling the strings ever let that happen.”

    Why would the league care about stopping a REGULAR SEASON win streak? The Spurs are still going to play their regular season games anyway, win or lose. Not so in the playoffs. You lose a series and you go fishing. The fact is, the league would prefer not to have the Spurs be one of the ONLY TWO teams left playing on the national stage. That’s not hard to understand. Look at the Spurs Finals ratings in the past compared to other finalists. It doesn’t stack up very good for the League’s coffers.

    “Better yet, as a fan of that small market team, you turn around and say it’s all rigged? Surely you can see the irony in that viewpoint.”

    But I never said “it’s all rigged”. I said this year, and specifically against the Thunder, in OKC, in a deciding Conference final game, it is highly likely that that one game was rigged. They wanted the young and athletic Thunder over the Spurs on that final stage, they knew it would be hotly contested, and therefore, not that hard to rig. In contrast, it would have been virtually impossible to rig the Jazz and Clippers series (get us to lose the series via referees), for obvious reasons.

  • Ananuri

    I do not say that. I Personally do not post on other team’s blogs, but this is a free country, and if you want to, obviously you can.  I do not like it, because in vast majority of the cases that is a trolling. Go and read your argument with theghostofjh above – did anything change? We think that referees were awful, you think game was called fairly, and stating it again and again.  It’s OK to do that on Thunder’s blog, or on neutral blogs, but here it probably irritates Spur’s fans.  If you understand that you are posting your opinion against spurs on the spurs blog and still do it (repeatedly, I might add), that is trolling. If you do not understand than, well… I better stop my comments now before I get accused of something.

  • JAWS3

    Almost 10 days since that pathetic game 6, and it still hurts…In hindsight, all these experts remark how the Spurs were overmatched and OKC was too athletic.  Except for game 3, all of the OKC victories could have gone either way down to the wire.

    In game 4, OKC’s front court played well above their expectations; their outlier performance won the game, not the Durant heroics. (A normal or slightly above performance from Ibaka, Perkins and Collison, and the Spurs typically win this close game anyway.) 

    Game 5 featured the Spurs abandoning their regular rotation, which hurt them during spurts in the game, plus periods where they lacked aggression.  I think when Parker and Ginobilli tired, they were prone to both TO’s and missed shots.  I felt Danny Green deserved another chance and Dejuan Blair should have gotten more playing time. Duncan hesitating to shoot didn’t make sense.  Spurs didn’t get really aggressive til the game was slipping away.  Some questionable officiating calls, but not enough to blame the refs.

    Game 6 is ANOTHER story.  The shortened rotation played a role in the Spurs fading in the end, but bad officiating STOLE this one.  I watched in disbelief as call after call went against the Spurs late in the 2nd half.  Ticky-tack fouls repeatedly sending OKC to the foul line, while off the ball fouls took points and possessions away from the Spurs. The Spurs were more aggressive offensively in game 6, and they were NOT rewarded.

    The Spurs “missing in action” 3 point shooters (I won’t name names this time) were what the team lacked in the latter part of the series.  The 10-12 extra points we normally get from decent 3 point shooting was the cushion we needed for the OKC’s late runs.  OKC did hit their late three’s.

    One side note, why did NBA officials allow Ibaka to goaltend THE ENTIRE SERIES?  Pinning the ball against the backboard is an obvious call.  Where’s the outrage?

    Maybe this is just downside of being a Spurs fan.  Even in bad losses, they are ALWAYS classy and say that the other team was better or wanted it more than them.  (Phil Jackson and Pat Riley never had a problem complaining about the refs being one-sided, even when it wasn’t true.)  As shameful as it was, no one ever talks about the Lakers giving back their 2002 NBA title, even though the Kings were totally robbed in game 6 of the WCF, before choking away game 7.  Game 6 of the 2012 WCF is destined to end up the same way.

  • Len

    Well Jim, you have every right to your beliefs.  

    But I can see where Joey could make several of those calls and influence the other refs into making the others.  Those refs do huddle and talk during the game.  One senior ref with a serious bias against one of the teams can influence the other referees calls.  And that’s the scenario I’m sticking with.

    I’m not wading hip deep into the conspiracy theory pool.  And quite frankly, before any Spurs fan does they should think about something.

    The Spurs got a hugely favorable call in 2005 vs the Suns.  Phx was the glamour team.  Phx is a much larger market.  Steve Nash was the MVP. If the league was fixed, why in the world would Stern have dished out those suspensions?  That series was a coin flip without the suspensions.  With them, Stern gave the small market, low ratings Spurs are monumental advantage.