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Let’s Just Stay on the Road Permanently

By Jeff Koch on March 17, 2012.

Another road game, another convincing win. Yawn. If only we could play with this passion and crispness at home.

That was one hell of a game. In the first half, the Spurs put on a clinic on offensive execution, getting everything they wanted and making most of their shots. It was a sight to see. In the second half, the shots stopped falling as easily and the Thunder made some adjustments on defense that gummed up the works of the offense, and the game got really close. Despite blowing the huge lead, I think there is more to be learned and gained from winning a close game on the road against the prohibitive best team in the West. I really loved the way the team kept fighting and playing hard, and always seemed to come up with the right big play in the right moment to stem the tide and hold off the Thunder.

And that brings us to perhaps the most important note of the game: the absence of Richard Jefferson. But let’s not think in those terms, let’s think of it like this: the continued emergence (and in many ways, re-emergence) of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Think of how many big plays both players made throughout the game on both offense and defense. Green, in particular, made tons of plays in the 4th quarter to help win the game. Obviously, the steal and dunk of the inbounds pass. But he also made several huge shots when the lead had gotten down to 2 points. And, to my eyes, he played some great defense on Westbrook and Harden.

Had Jefferson been playing, most likely one of those two players would not have been out there at a key moment. And would Jefferson had made any of those plays? Perhaps a few of the shots, but most likely none of the defensive plays. Would he have still won the game? Maybe. But I like our chances a lot better without him. Which is what the term ‘addition by subtraction’ means.

Both Leonard and Green will have to play important minutes in any sort of deep playoff run. It’s prudent to get them ready for that. It’s trial by fire, and both are proving quite comfortable in the heat.

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