Spurs have to bring the nasty again





OKLAHOMA CITY – Guess who needs to get nasty again.

None of the Spurs are reprising the famous timeout call to arms from coach Gregg Popovich during Game 2, but they are noting that an attitude change is necessary heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference final tonight against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a rally cry from a team that has a 2-1 lead in the series and wins in 20 of its last 21 games.

It’s not strange, it’s the Spurs. They have achieved a rare level of greatness – consistent success, sometimes championship success, through years of roster alterations and change in style of play – by refusing to settle for one loss every seven weeks or so. They are also historically stable, though, in a way that going back as the enemy into arguably the best home-court advantage in the league, as the Thunder try to tie the series, does not cause alarms.

The setting is not a concern. But the approach is, with the Spurs knowing they have to bring a different attitude tonight as part of the admission that Oklahoma City was more aggressive Thursday in Game 3.

“They were hitting first,” said Stephen Jackson, a reserve swingman acquired at the trade deadline specifically because he would bring more of that edge to the locker room. “They were way more aggressive, they were way more physical. They flat out wanted the game more than we did, and it was obvious from the jump of the game. We’ve got to match their intensity from the jump and be ready to play and we can’t expect our three stars (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili) just to bail us out every time.”

Which brings the Spurs to Game 4 and the chance for a better showing.

“Just continue to do what we’ve been doing,” Jackson said. “We’re human. That’s what I told Tim the other night. He was upset that he didn’t play as well. I was like, ‘Tim, you’re human. You can’t save us every day.’ That’s part of a team. We’ve got to be guys that pick each other up. We’ll be ready to play tonight. We took a nice little butt-whipping the other night. I think everybody’s kind of sour about that, so we’ll be ready to play tonight.”

Other thoughts a few hours before the showdown:

  • For all the attention the Thunder received for the adjustment of 6-foot-7 Thabo Sefolosha defending 6-2 Parker more than usual, the Spurs believe the bigger move by coach Scott Brooks was the unusual amount of time 6-10 Serge Ibaka spent on 6-6 Ginobili on switches. It was another reminder of Oklahoma City’s abilities on defense despite the image of offense-first with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but it also put attention on the San Antonio backcourt to counter in Game 4.
  • Ginobili, when asked what he needs to do better if the same matchup comes tonight: “Attack better. When they collapse in the paint, try to find the open teammate. Basic basketball. It’s not something Xs-and-Os wise that is crazy. But I’ve got to be sharper. More decisive. The spacing has got to be better.”
  • Still no sign of a real role for DeJuan Blair, who has gone from averaging 21.3 minutes and starting at center in 62 of 66 games for the Spurs during the regular season to getting what has become a permanent seat somewhere near the parking lot. Blair is getting 8.4 minutes in the playoffs. Popovich was asked the other night if he could explain the diminished role and replied: “No.”


17 Comments

  1. Rocabye says:

    Anyone who blames these losses on officiating is crazy. The Spurs were allowed to play every bit as hard as the Thunder. It wasnt one-sided. If youre relying on free throws to win games youre doing it wrong. Jackson was tugging on Durants jersey all night and never got called for it. If the Spurs stopped flopping mid shot maybe theyd score. If they stopped flopping during rebounds maybe they could get back on D fast enough.

  2. Kaiily says:

    I like the positive outlook that this guy Stephen has, as well as, he constantly gives credit to the other team, even after a lost.

    He slayed me, though, when he said, “If you’re scared, then go to church”. He has the right attitude.

  3. Jess L. says:

    This is what having the homecourt advantage is all about. When both teams are evenly-matched, the team with the home court advantage throughout the series must be able to protect that advantage and win every single home game. This means that when the series is pushed to the limit, that team gets to play the 7th game at home and there’s nothing like playing before a hometown crowd

  4. okc says:

    thunder win in 6 or 7. the old spur getting too tire when the series getting longer

  5. OKCFTW! says:

    Spurs in 5??? well it’s 2-2.. so where’s your 5 now? :)

    • dattebayo says:

      Hey, I admit that the Thunder played great defense throughout the game, they made their shots and they won the game to tie the series. Congratulations to the Thunder for this result.

      Yet, the Spurs didn’t play their best again, especially the 2nd quarter was really bad. In addition to that the Spurs did not get many calls just like in Game 3, TD21 should have been at the line a lot more and there should have been some loose ball fouls on the Thunder. I will not even mention the missed goaltending on Ibaka and fouls from Westbrook coming from behind poking the ball away (oops, I just did). OKCs bigs as a result had too many offensive rebounds and got extra points on the board.
      Before the foul-freethrow game started, the Thunder were up by 5. They were up because Durant got loose for once and made 6 or 7 consecutive shots (I wondererd why Parker was on him 2 times there??). And Ibaka made 8 jumpers and went a perfect 11 from the field. With Perkins combined they were 17-18 from the field.

      I have my doubts all that will combine again to give the Thunder another win, Spurs in 6…

  6. TEK says:

    Game 5 will be Spurs win. David Stern need to be barred from the ATT Center. He and his officials stole game 4 from Spurs and game 2 from the Celtics, San Antonio need to lock him up in the Alamo. He tried his best to make it Thunder Heat in last years final and he is doing it again. Stern about your thoughts about flopping why don’t we let several nasty Thunder run your bum over and see if you call it a flop. Duncan and Blair will take over game 5 and several Thunder will be knock out. If you like it nasty OKC. Have fun getting Spurred. Bloody Thunder is best when they cheat.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Wow TEK congrats for being the most one sided poster on this blog, If anything refs gave San Antonio game 1, funny how you dont mention that. Looked to me like game 4 was called pretty evenly for both sides.

  7. DRKGBL96 says:

    Spurs live by the 3 die by the three

  8. choi says:

    Spurs will re-group and will win game 4. They are too smart for thunders. Go Spurs!

  9. dattebayo says:

    The Western Conference Finals better known as “Schooling the Thunder”.

    I can remember last year, the Thunder won Game 2 and lost Game 3 and were behind 1-2 in the series. In Game 4 the fans kept them going, but when Harden fouled out they lost their rhythm and let the Mavs take that game away from them, after being up by 15 with under 5 minutes to go.
    The Thunder are still young and they only shine in transition. When the Spurs execute better offensively like they are able to, the Thunder will get no fastbreak points and they will have to earn it with halfcourt offense. I don’t think the Spurs played well in Game 3, there was too much standing around and no movementoff the ball. I expect the Spurs to bounce back and adjust to the Thunders defense and I don’t think the calls will go in OKCs favor as much as they did in Game 3.

    Spurs in 5…

  10. liyi says:

    okc supposed to win game 3and 4 because they are playing at home..but if spurs took this game 4…its game over to the okc.

  11. Rocabye says:

    I’m so tired of writers fussing over the Spurs. This is more about the Thunder right now than it is about the Spurs in terms of the series, so why are we writing about this. The media obsession with the Spurs has got to stop, its kinda sickening lol.

    • NBAfan says:

      I agree, this is not about the Spurs. It was not about what was wrong withe the Lakers the previous round either. OKC is just playing hard and winning games….

  12. SpUrS fAn says:

    We will do better tonight, Go Spurs Go!!

  13. go thunder says:

    spurs went from underrated to overrated in a matter of a few weeks after beating subpar teams like the jazz and clippers. thunder takes a small step every year and after losing in the conference finals last year, they’re going to the nba finals this year, cant deny it

    • Imparcial says:

      Spurs in 6, game 5 win local team and then too much pressure for thunder in game 6
      Thunder are better than last year as they defeated Mavs champion team and laker 2 champion teams
      It has nothing to do in reaching finals