The Margin: Ibaka back, Thunder make this a series

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Editor’s note: We’re doing The Margin for each of the playoff games during the Spurs’ conference finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. For those readers not familiar with this format, let me get you up to speed. Stolen blatantly from our friend Rob Mahoney, The Margin is a bullet point for each point in the difference in the final score.

Because the basketball Gods like me more than our friend Matt Tynan, here are just nine bullet points from Sunday night’s poop-fest.

  • 16, that was the difference in rebounding in Oklahoma City’s favor. That’s pretty inexcusable. The difference in offensive rebounding was pretty misleading, particularly in the third quarter when Derek Fisher and Caron Butler combined for four offensive boards. Led to second chance points and more importantly the fouls racking up.
  • Anytime Tony Parker’s point total matches his jersey number things don’t normally work out well for the Spurs. He also missed nine shots, and had as many turnovers as he did assists. If he’s not better the Spurs probably aren’t winning this series.
  • The third quarter got silly. Oklahoma City had a 22-0 free throw advantage in that quarter alone. Before you go complaining about the officiating, which was uneven throughout the game, sometimes in Oklahoma City’s favor and sometimes in San Antonio’s, know that this was the quarter where the Spurs effort went completely out the window. Offensive rebounds, Marco Belinelli being over aggressive guarding Kevin Durant, etc. The Spurs were in that entire quarter and blew several chances to narrow the gap.
  • Speaking of the officiating, Patty Mills sunk a three that would’ve made it a six point game. Instead, after the shot went in, Mills was called for an offensive foul for kicking his leg out and making contact with Kevin Durant. First off, their legs barely connected, second that’s probably the first time this playoffs that’s been called. If that’s getting called then Russell Westbrook’s going to start racking up the offensive fouls.
  • Thunder did an amazing job defending Danny Green. He made two straight 3’s to start the game, and had a ton of trouble finding open space. Just another issue the Spurs need to fix by Tuesday.
  • Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker both went to the locker room before the game ended. Manu got treatment on his foot and Parker on his hamstring. Both say they’re fine. Carry on.
  • The Spurs shot 26 3-pointers and made 10 of them. Probably more than Pop would like the Spurs to take, but it also may be the shot that’s available for the rest of the series. Also means there might be a game where the Spurs win because they’re making a ton of the 3’s.
  • Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined to go 16-16 from the free throw line in Game 3. They were 13-17 in Games 1 & 2 combined. This will be a point of emphasis in Game 4.
  • Serge Ibaka was incredible. He wasn’t the only reason Oklahoma City won but he was great. 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Every time Tony Parker got into the paint he either rushed a shot or dribbled out (or fell, that happened a lot for whatever reason). Ibaka did limp quite a bit through the second half, so we’ll see how his leg does throughout the next two days. And when the Thunder have to fly later this week. Either way, series changer. Doesn’t mean the Spurs can’t finish this off in five games if they win Game 4, but Ibaka makes things infinitely more difficult.
  • Graham

    Definitely curious to see how the team responds to this. I’m thinking Ibaka caught them offguard, but the one thing you can take out of this loss is the team takes it personally. Pop’s got a day to light a fire under their ass for their lack of effort and challenge them to respond accordingly.

  • Colin

    Putting Westbrook on his ass wouldn’t hurt every now and again, especially on that missed dunk attempt. Anyhow, the Spurs didn’t match what the Thunder brought (with or without Ibaka game 3) and that is why they lost………

  • James W

    I was disgusted with the lack of effort on the boards and bad decisions which led to turnovers. There was no excuse for guards getting offensive rebounds for OKC when front court players are around. I saw too much hesitation and extra passes on shots. OKC deserved to win, but the free throw disparity and the ticky-tack fouls that repeatedly sent Durant and Westbrook to the line was too much to take. Spurs players absorbed more contact going to the basketball, and it was never called in the 2nd half.

    To counter Ibaka, you have to make him guard a shooter, instead of letting in roam free on the weak side. He doesn’t have to guard Splitter. I would interested in Pop using a 3-guard lineup to make the Thunder guard everybody.

  • Fred

    Pop is partly to be blamed for this FIASCO too.

    Before the game and even before the series he’s on record as saying “we won’t change a thing we do” because of Ibaka’s potential absence. Well, no Pop, a team needs to adjust to the situation at hand. You can’t play the same way against every team, you need to exploit to your advantage.

    Tonight, the game plan STANK. No effort, no plan B, nothing. That is on Pop. Hopefully the situation can be fixed by next game.

    The thing that stinks is the fact that the game was up for grabs. If the Spurs set the tone in the 1Q they win it. Instead, they missed at least a half dozen of “easy” layups. Timmy, Kawhi and even Splitter looked totally lost out there. And Marco, man that dude is bad as in BAD! Now I realize while the Bulls let him go. TO prone and his shooting keeps getting worse and worse.

    The Spurs don’t have to win next game, but showing a better effort will be a good sign of things to come.

  • SpurredOn

    If I may add two more: Spurs have led at the end of the 1st quarter in all three games this season in OKC and been outscored in all three 3Qs.

  • fkj74

    Stratergy was ok, shots were just missed Diaw and Leonard missed bunches of open shoots. We did not match ther intensity. If we do that, stop fouling, and keep the TOs down we are ok. I still say Spurs in 5. Go Spurs!