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