Category: Recaps (page 1 of 22)

Inevitable

2017 Western Conference Finals
San Antonio 115, Golden State 129
Warriors win series 4-0

I still have nothing new to say about this game or this series.

With one twist on an ankle, every ounce of drama and suspense was drained from the series. I maintain that the Spurs were not winning this series, despite what the first 29 minutes of Game 1 told me. But my great hope was that there was data to be mined, things to be learned, weaknesses to be probed.

Instead, we got this shitburger of a series. No competition, no drama, nothing learned, nothing gained. You could argue that we learned LaMarcus is not a big moment player and not a #1 option. But we already kind of knew that. The Warriors completely erased him from this series, as they should have done once Kawhi went down. Slot him into a #2 option (or, more importantly, a #3 option), and things look very different for him. Remember, he was tremendous in the first half of Game 1 when everything was in its right place.

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Another One Bites The Dust

2017 Western Conference Finals
San Antonio 108, Golden State 120
Warriors lead series 3-0

The Spurs played better. They played harder. They competed to the best of their abilities. They still got their butts kicked.

There’s just not enough there. Without Kawhi, without Tony (how quickly we forget about him, and how useful he might be in this series), the rest of the roster falls into disarray, and the usual collective synchronicity becomes merely an accumulation of pieces.

I honestly don’t know what else to say. You can only watch the same movie over and over again so many times and find fresh takes. This Warriors squad versus what is left of this Spurs squad is simply not a fair fight.

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Capitulation

2017 Western Conference Finals
San Antonio 100, Golden State 136
Warriors lead series 2-0

For the first time in a long time, I did not want to watch a Spurs game.

I almost never watch the games live for a variety of reasons. So for the most part, I know the end result before I witness the opening tip. I’m lucky that I have more wins to look forward to than losses as a Spurs fan; but even with most losses, there’s something worth watching, a performance to marvel at, an end-of-bench player to get excited about, a hint of some long-term master plan from Pop.

Not Tuesday night, though. There was nothing. No there there. No fight. No hope. Just surrender.

Of course, a lot of us knew this before the game. After everything that happened in game one and its aftermath, game two’s result felt predetermined. Did anyone honestly believe the Spurs had a chance to win without Kawhi Leonard?

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Twist

2017 Western Conference Finals
San Antonio 111, Golden State 113
Warriors lead series 1-0

Not like this.

I didn’t think the Spurs had much of a chance of winning this series, but I at least wanted an honest go of it. I wanted the best the Spurs had to offer being pushed to their limits. I wanted to see how the team responded, and what fight they had in them to push the seemingly invincible Warriors.

We’ll still see that fight, surely; but I don’t know how much resistance they can offer without their best player and lynchpin of the whole operation on both sides of the ball.

What a start to Game 1. After 24 minutes, every Spurs fan was dreaming the impossible “what if?” A 20-point lead against a lethargic Warriors team and a real opportunity to steal one in Oakland. If there was a path to winning this series, the first half of Game 1 laid it bare: steal Game 1, catching the Warriors a bit rusty and overconfident; take 2 of 3 games in San Antonio (likely 1 of Game 3 or 4, and Game 6). Just get to that Game 7 and see what was possible.

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Destroyed and Defeated

2017 Western Conference Semifinals
San Antonio 114, Houston 75
Spurs win series 4-2

I was optimistic heading into Game 6, with or without Kawhi Leonard. But I never expected this.

No one could have. As Jeff Van Gundy noted late, given circumstance and situation, this might have been the most impressive playoff road victory ever. In the history of the NBA. There are surely more dominating ones (maybe?), but none with the importance and the supposed disparity of motivation and talent. The Spurs eviscerated the Rockets.

We could look at every number and find domination. We could look at every matchup and find domination. I could list every player on the Spurs roster (just about) and wax poetically about how they contributed to the win; and how the Spurs epitomize the team over the individual; about how trust in a system, trust in your teammates, and trust in yourself is powerful. But I’ll spare you all of that. I watched the game, you watched the game; we know what we saw.

We should single out LaMarcus Aldridge, though. This was everything we’ve always wanted from him (and everything we thought we were getting from him, which is why we’re all so salty about him all the time). It wasn’t just the scoring, or the rebounding, or the swagger of being the best player on the court (something he was quite often in Portland). For me, it was his aggression and his decisiveness. He knew what he wanted to do and he did it. Nothing could stop him.

His role isn’t always scoring anymore, and I try to judge him more on his engagement and activity than his numbers. With Kawhi the center of the offense, there is little room for this LaMarcus. But it’s nice to see that it’s still there, and it gives me hope that there is still a dominant offense to be built around our two stars.

Let’s also give a little shine to Dejounte Murray. He played critical minutes in this game and he played them well. He’s not there yet, but he has a chance to be a very special player, a devastating PG in this NBA and a perfect complement to Kawhi. His size and speed are incredible, and if he ever puts it all together, he’ll be a star. I’m not ready to hand the keys over just yet, but I’d feel comfortable with a Patty Mills / DeJounte duo heading forward.

Spurs fans, rejoice. This series, in many ways, was our Finals. Thinking realistically, the best-case result for this season was the Conference Finals. The San Antonio Spurs beating the Golden State Warriors is a near-impossible task; but making it to the Western Conference Finals in what is essentially a transition year shows us that the future is bright and the Spurs mojo is still strong.

Before the playoffs I said that anything short of the WCF would be a disappointment. We’re here, I’m happy, the season was a success. The rest will be pure bonus.

So before we start worrying about the Warriors (helpful hint: don’t), let’s bask in the joy of another productive season, and another Conference Finals. We take these deep playoff runs for granted sometimes, and this is a perfect season to enjoy the process of it as much as the end result.

I can’t think of any better way to have achieved that end result than by absolutely destroying the Houston Rockets.

Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals begins Sunday afternoon in Oakland.

Go Spurs Go.

Featured photo credit: Getty Images

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