The Short of It: The Spurs played their best half of the playoffs to open Game 6, but the second half was all Thunder as they systematically erased an 18-point lead on their way to a 107-99 series clinching win. Tony Parker dominated the first two quarters scoring 21 points and dishing out 10 assists, but he struggled to keep up the pace in the last two periods only netting 8 points after the break as the Spurs got outscored 59-36.
Where The Game Was Won: Second half offensive efficiency. The Thunder (33) took less shots in the second half than the Spurs (40), but yet made six more buckets (OKC - 19, SA - 13). They shot 57.6% from the field while the Spurs managed to hit just 32.5% of their shots. SA’s cold streak was never more apparent than during a sequence with 50 seconds left in the game where they had three offensive possesions in a row, but came away with no points. Duncan missed a lay up then Stephen Jackson and Tony Parker both missed three point attempts. It was Jackson’s only missed shot of the night. When the Thunder finally got the ball back all they needed was a Kendrick Perkins dunk via an assist from Kevin Durant to seal the game at 150-99 with 25 seconds left on the clock.
Players of the Game:
Spurs: Tony Parker - 29 points, 12 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals
Thunder: Kevin Durant - 34 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks
Unsung Hero: Derek Fisher - 9 points
Fisher’s five points on two buckets in the fourth quarter came at critical times in the game. The first was a three pointer that happened at the 4:35 mark that pushed a two-point OKC lead up to five at 96-91 and the second was a two-point bank shot at the 1:55 mark with the shot clock winding down that bumped the lead to six at 103-97. His shots provided breathing room for the Thunder in the final stretch of the game.
Quote of the Game: “The third quarter, it was like playing in mud. So, that was our downfall as much as anything.” - Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
Stat of the Game: 7 - The Spurs only hit 7 of their 22 shots in the third quarter on their way to being outscored 32-18 in the period and giving up all but one point of their 15-point halftime lead.
Hidden Stat of the Game: 48 - Kevin Durant did not come off the court in Game 6, playing all 48 minutes in the final game of the Western Conference Finals.
What’s Next: The offseason for the Spurs and Game 1 of the NBA Finals for the Thunder.
Nerves – Close out games are the hardest, period, and it doesn’t matter if they take place at home or on the road. There is a ton of pressure on both sides tonight since OKC doesn’t want to return to SA for a Game 7 and the Spurs don’t want this to be the end of their season. Which team will come out wound too tight and try to force the issue early? Stephen Jackson may make love to pressure, but will the rest of his team follow suit?
Tony Parker, Tony Parker, Tony Parker – The Spurs will go as Tony Parker goes and he needs to play a near perfect game, on the road, to force a Game 7. If he’s off, it will be noticeable early via a bundle of turnovers and bug-eyed glances at the refs after not getting foul calls in the lane.
The Bench – Manu will probably start again in Game 5 and that will leave a gaping production hole on the Spurs bench. With the way that they have played in the last three games, expecting any of the role players (Splitter, Green, Bonner, Neal, Jackson) to step up tonight is painfully unpredictable. However, what you can count on is that James Harden and the Thunder bench will most definitely be in attack mode like circling sharks.
The Short of It: The San Antonio Spurs lost for the first time at home during this postseason in a critical Game 5 that once again saw OKC’s Kevin Durant take over in the second half, where he scored 22 of his 27 points, on the way to 108-103 win. Manu Ginobili turned back the clock for a vintage performance in a starting role (34pts, 6rebs, 7asts, 2stls), but it wasn’t enough down the stretch as the Thunder hit big shots in the final minute of the game to get the win and take control of the series.
Where The Game Was Won: James Harden’s three with 28 seconds left. Although down by double digits for much of the fourth quarter, the Spurs engineered an 11-0 run to pull within two points in the last minutes of the game. Then, with the shot clock running out on an OKC possession, James Harden hit a clutch three pointer to push the Thunder lead back to two possessions at 106-101.
Players of the Game:
Spurs: Manu Ginobili - 34 points, 6 rebounds, 7assists, 2 steals
Thunder: Kevin Durant - 27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
Unsung Hero: Daequan Cook - 8 points
Cook did all of his damage in just 3:54 in the second quarter when he went 3/3 from the field including two buckets from three point land helping he Thunder take an eight point lead into halftime.
Quote of the Game: “If we can’t win on Wednesday, we’re not a championship caliber team. It’s as simple as that.” - Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich
Stat of the Game: 21 - The Spurs turned the ball over 21 times in Game 5 which the Thunder scored a whopping 28 points off of.
Hidden Stat of the Game: 4 - The Thunder hit 4-of-5 three point shots in the 4th quarter including James Harden’s game-clincher with 28 seconds left in the game that gave OKC a 106-101 lead.
What’s Next: Game 6 on Wednesday at 8:00pm CT in Oklahoma City.
Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with a postseason-high 34 points (11-21 FG, 5-10 3FG, 7-8 FT), 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. It was Ginobili’s first 30-plus point game of the 2012 playoffs and the eighth time he has scored in double figures. Ginobili has led the team in scoring three times this postseason and in assists on four occasions.
Tony Parker finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. It was Parker’s sixth time in the postseason scoring 20-or-more points.
Tim Duncan posted his seventh postseason double-double with 18 points (7-10 FG, 4-5 FT), 12 rebounds and 3 assists. It was the 137th career playoff double-double for Duncan which ties Bill Russell for fourth all-time in the postseason.
Stephen Jackson added 13 points (5-9 FG, 3-6 3FG), 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals off the bench.
Kawhi Leonard pulled down 10 rebounds, the second time this postseason he has grabbed 10-or-more rebounds in a game.
The Spurs’ Front Line Rotation - DeJuan Blair received his first meaningful minutes of the playoffs in Game 4 and it changed the complexion of the game in the second half. While his box score line may only show two points and two rebounds, his energy and ball hawking helped cut a 15-point Thunder lead all the way down to three. It was a moot point though as Kevin Durant played on a different level in the fourth quarter, but it begs the question of “what if” in regards to the Spurs first half struggles. Coach Pop tends to lean stubborn when it comes to lineup changes in the playoffs (see George Hill in 2009), but one does have to wonder if Blair will find himself on the court more in Game 5.
Role Players – Spurs guard Danny Green virtually disappeared in OKC and has had an underwhelming series as a whole. When he does play well though it happens at home. Will he step up and contribute in Game 5 or possibly lose his place in the starting lineup? Thunder forward Serge Ibaka went 11-for-11 in Game 4. Will any momentum from that carry over on the road trip?
Getting To The Line – As this series gets more physical the feeling that both teams will be heading to the free throw line more in Game 5 is becoming omnipresent. Which team will play with the aggressiveness to dominate from the charity stripe? And will it be at the cost of their offensive rhythm? Will any of the major players foul out as we have seen in the Eastern Conference Finals?
The Short of It: Kevin Durant scored 18 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder withstood a late Spurs rally and evened the series at two games apiece with a 109-103 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs put themselves within striking distance in the second half, but Serge Ibaka’s first three quarters (11/11 FG, 26 points) and Kevin Durant’s final period proved too much to overcome.
Where The Game Was Won: Kevin Durant. Already with 18 points over the first three quarters, an unstoppable Durant added another 18 In the fourth quarter alone as he single handedly closed out Game 4 for the Thunder.
Players of the Game:
Spurs: Tim Duncan - 21 points, 8 rebounds
Thunder: Kevin Durant - 36 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists
Unsung Hero: Kendrick Perkins - 15 points, 9 rebounds
Much of the focus in Game 4 was on Serge Ibaka’s perfect night, but Perkins was no slouch either. He combined with Ibaka to shoulder the offensive load in the first half when Durant had just 8 points and Harden/Westbrook were non-factors for OKC.
Quote of the Game: “Maybe a surprise for you, but not a surprise for my teammates or myself. I work had every day, so for you I understand it is a surprise.” - Serge Ibaka when asked about his big night
Stat of the Game: 100 - Thunder center Serge Ibaka used Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to have a career night by hitting 100% of his shots, going 11-of-11 from the field en route to 26 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Hidden Stat of the Game: 0 - Thunder guard Russell Westbrook did not take a single shot in the fourth quarter, finally deferring to Kevin Durant who closed out Game 4 by netting 18 points in the final frame.
What’s Next: Game 5 on Monday at 8:00pm CT in San Antonio.
Focus - The Spurs clearly lacked it in Game 3 while the Thunder clearly exuded it. Will San Antonio be able to regroup after the beat down or will OKC come out with its foot still slammed down on the gas pedal? A Game 4 win by the Spurs would almost guarantee a return trip to the Finals. A Game 4 win by the Thunder would not only even the series and give them momentum, it would also put all the pressure back on the Spurs to regain control in Game 5.
Sefolosha v Parker - Thabo did a great job shutting down TP in Game 3, making him work hard to get shots, cutting off passing lanes and forcing several turnovers. It was a great adjustment by OKC. How will Coach Pop now adjust to that adjustment?
Ball movement - A lot of the Spurs success in their 20-game winning streak was predicated upon great ball movement providing open looks at the basket. The Thunder did a great job of killing that movement in Game 3 for the Spurs causing a flurry of turnovers and making them work hard for shots. The result was a 39.5% shooting night by SA. On the flip side, OKC had their highest assist output of the series (23) and got plenty of open looks in transition off of the Spurs’ 21 turnovers.
The Short of It: Game 3 had barely begun before Spurs fans started looking towards Game 4 as the OKC Thunder broke the Spurs 20-game win streak in a 102-82 win that wasn’t even as close as the score indicates. The Spurs played sloppy giving up 20 points on 21 turnovers and the Thunder, led by Kevin Durant’s 22 points, dominated the paint with a 44-24 advantage down low. The biggest separation happened in the second quarter where San Antonio was out-scored 32-17 which was a turnabout from Games 1 and 2 where OKC was doomed by a bad frames in each game that proved too much to overcome.
Where The Game Was Won: Turnovers. The Spurs lacked focus and sharpness in their execution and paid for it dearly by committing 21 turnovers that ended up as 20 Thunder points.
Players of the Game:
Spurs: Stephen Jackson - 16 points, 4/5 three-point shooting
Thunder: Kevin Durant - 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Unsung Hero: Thabo Sefolosha - 19 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals
Sefolosha was a monster on the defensive end in Game 3. He grabbed six steals on the night and essentially shut down the head of the Spurs snake in Tony Parker by forcing him to commit turnover after turnover. He was also no slouch on the offensive side, netting 19 points.
Quote of the Game: “They played with a lot of energy. They played harder than us tonight and deserved the win. They just played better. We have to play a lot better if we want to win here.” - Tony Parker
Stat of the Game: 21 - The Thunder forced the Spurs into committing 21 turnovers good for 20 points in Game 3
Hidden Stat of the Game: 27:34 - Tony Parker spent the most time on the court for the Spurs in Game 3 logging a paltry 27:34. If they were feeling any ill-effects from playing their third game in five night, the Spurs should be fully rested for Game 4 on Saturday.
What’s Next: Game on Saturday at 7:30pm CT in Oklahoma City.
The Start - Even though some Thunder players stated that they were treating Game 2 like a Game 7, they really should have saved that rhetoric for Game 3. A Spurs’ 3-0 series lead would essentially create an Everest climb for OKC and the start of Game 3 will tell us if they will be facing that miserable ascent soon. Going down a few points early wouldn’t necessarily finish off the Spurs, but let’s be honest, this isn’t the Clippers they’re facing and coming back from a 24-point deficit to grab a double digit win isn’t going to happen in Oklahoma.
The Finish - The Spurs big three of Parker, Ginobili and Duncan should start to show some wear as they play their third game in five nights. Can they stay focused and execute late in the game on the road in front of a hostile crowd?
Fouls on Splitter - Employing the Hack-A-Shaq method on Tiago Splitter in Game 2 may not have paid off immediately on the scoreboard for the Thunder, but the dividends were shared in the fourth quarter when and out-of-rhythm Spurs team had their once 22-point lead cut to just six. Expect to see more of this effective strategy.
Durant vs. Westbrook vs. the Fourth Quarter - Will the current NBA scoring title holder (Durant) actually get to take more than three shots in the fourth quarter? Will KD be more demonstrative in crunch time on his home court or will he defer to Westbrook in Superhero mode?