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On Inches and Moments

By Jeff Koch on January 5, 2011.

San Antonio 103, Boston 105  //  29-6  //  1st in the West

Basketball is a game of inches and moments. Inches: one or two here and there can be the difference between a miss and a make, a steal and a foul, a charge and a block, a rebound and a loose ball, a contested shot or a blown rotation.  In the aggregate, those inches can spell the difference between a win and a loss, a championship and an extended summer break. Moments: can you make the basket that puts you over the hump after a comeback? Can you secure the rebound with :10 remaining to give your team a shot at the ballgame? Can you make the free throws that ice the game? Can you make the most important defensive stop of the game? In the aggregate, every one of those moments has the chance to turn the tide of the game, the series, or the season.

Brian Babineau/NBA/Getty Images

The Celtics and The Spurs played one hell of a game Wednesday night. It was close throughout, with no team ever having a double digit lead. The momentum shifted several times in the last two minutes, let alone the entirety of the game. The Spurs made a frantic push (aided by the rarest of things: 2 missed free throws from Ray Allen) to have the ball down only 2 with :10 left. Pop is masterful in drawing up plays and getting wide open shots in these situations. I was secretly hoping he’d call for a 3-pointer for the win, rather than playing for the tie. The ball was given to Duncan and the play whistled back into action.

Inches. Moments.

Ginobili came from underneath the basket to receive the pass, only Duncan didn’t make it. Ginobili curled away from Duncan, towards the far sideline. We’ve seen this play before, as Duncan lobs the pass over the 3/4 of the court to Ginobili who then can drive to the hoop, just like in Denver. Only Boston played better defense than Denver, as Marquis Daniels stayed tight on Ginobili, forcing Duncan to throw it in to McDyess at the top. Inches. Ginobili came back for the ball, dribbled to his right, up faked, pulled back, tried to get behind the 3-point line, and then put up a rushed shot that was blocked by Pierce playing great defense and never had a chance.

Brian Babineau/NBA/Getty Images

A few more inches, one giant moment. A win for the Celtics, a loss for the Spurs.

When the inches mattered, the Celtics won them. When the moments mattered, the Celtics came up bigger. Not overwhelmingly so, but enough. It was a great game played by two great teams (that could very well meet in the Finals), two teams separated by perhaps just a few inches and a few moments.

Which could very well be the difference between winning the Championship and losing it.

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