Hard Not Enough, Spurs Need Smart





OKLAHOMA CITY – Don’t bother telling Stephen Jackson that the Spurs played hard.

“We shouldn’t get any credit for playing hard,” said Capt. Jack. “It’s the Western Conference finals. You’re supposed to play hard. I mean, if you’re scared, go to church … You have to be ready to play. Pop shouldn’t have to come in and scream at us and tell somebody to play hard. A lot of people would die to be in this position. Go out there and give it all and whatever happens, happens.”

Jackson also has a simple solution to Spurs’ problems: Hit first.

“We’re taking too long to get into these games,” he said. “It’s like we’re taking the first quarter to get loose and get adjusted to what’s happening and those guys are jumping on us.

“This is the Western Conference finals. You can’t be having no time to find out what’s going on. You got to come out there and hit them first.”

In the past two games, the Thunder have definitely put some bodies and some bumping on the Spurs’ fire-starter guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

After burning OKC on 16-for-21 shooting for 34 points and eight assists in Game 2 of the series, Parker hit just 11 of 27 in Games 3 and 4 for a combined total of 28 points and eight assists. Ginobili scored just 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting in Game 4 and did not have any of his typical dynamic impact.

The Thunder big men continued to jump out early in Game 4 and blew up any chances of Parker getting into the lane on the pick and roll and Russell Westbrook did a solid job bumping Ginobili and throwing him off his game.

“Pick and roll defense is a five-minute defense,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It’s physical effort and mental effort because you have to see it every time and you might see two, three or four on any given possession. It’s not like you can cover it one time on a possession over and over. You just have to wait for the next 12 seconds on the shot clock and they’re going to come back for one or two more.”

Ginobili says he thought the Spurs moved the ball better in Game 4, but they were still not effective enough in running the offense that had made them look like a steamroller through the first two rounds of the playoffs. After running off a historic string of 20 straight victories, the Spurs have now lost two in a row for the first time in more than two months and are stuck in the mire because Parker and Ginobili can’t gain traction.

Everything that worked a week ago has been gummed by the Thunder defense. All of the precision passing and cutting and scoring and making the game look so easy has jumped off the tracks.

It’s not just about playing hard. It’s about playing smart and the chess match now has the Spurs backed into a corner.

“You have to re-think, re-group and maybe make some kind of adjustment to get us back to playing our game,” said Ginobili. “We can’t win by continuing to play like this.”

44 Comments

  1. Rocabye says:

    All I know is whoever put big money on the Spurs is about to lose a looooot of money. Basketball teams are a lot like stocks. Meteoric rises are due for a fall. Always. Remember Jeremy Lin? No way he could keep up that high level of play forever..was due for a fall. The Spurs 20 game win streak? No way they could keep that up forever, was due for a fall. Playing at a high level is exhausting, period. Its not physically exhausting, but mentally exhausting. The Spurs are mentally exhausted, you can see it just by the way they are playing. They hit their cooling off period at the wrong time.

  2. japjap6969 says:

    ………I Think OKC will win the series, if the big 3 of SPURS will not play good, it will be the end of their journey…I’m a fans of Tony but I choose OKC will win this series because of their young and atletic ability…good luck to the winner, because Miami or Boston is waiting………….

  3. DaveBautista says:

    As a Spurs fan, I knew this was a tough series. Prior to this Series I thought it would go 6 or 7 as OKC is a very good team. They are great at home and their fans remind me of the Sacramento Kings fans of old when they filled Arco Arena. For the Spurs to take the Series, they need to limit turnovers and leave Matt Bonner on the bench! I said this last year about Bonner during the Memphis Series. He is not making 3 pointers and his defense is a liability. Forget this spreading the floor garbage when he is out there. Finally, if OKC has guys going off other then their Big 3 (like Ibaka, Thabo, etc.) they are almost unbeatable.

  4. John says:

    This is a much better series than Boston/Miami were the officaiting is horrible for both sides. I actually can sit down and watch a hard fought, clean basketball game.

  5. TeamKD says:

    Lol @Basketball Wizard knows nothing about basketball lmao

  6. Jon Axl says:

    Give me some nasty big boys! hit by sjax, fear the blair, bank the big 3! come on nasty boys!

  7. jan_279 says:

    The Spurs really need to give Blair more playing time. Blair has a history of playing great against this OKC team.

  8. the real wiz says:

    @ Basketball wizard , you should stop talking , you clearly know nothing

  9. Allen says:

    @basketball wizard. I suggest you stop watching the playoff. it seem you have no IQ in basketball game at all. Your idol Jeremy might have the skill but is too weak to compete in the NBA. You watch and see..he wont last long

  10. digitioli says:

    It’s all about defense. Great that Ibaka scored some points, even better than great were his and the team’s defense. This is where athleticism really shows up when applied with EFFORT on defense. Anybody who knows anything about this game knows that defense wins championships. If the Thunder commit themselves to tenacious d (love you Jack!) for the rest of the playoffs, they are a tough out. Even Westbrook seems to have finally got this through his head, which if he can keep that thought in the front of his mind and use his incredible physical skills for defense first, they can win it all. Sefolosha was the difference in game 3 with his defense, and that very well could be the turning point in this series if he and his mates can keep it up. Typically, the media has it all wrong and always talks about offense when defense wins year in year out. If only the refs can keep out of it either way, and stop with the manipulation… fat chance.

    • Mattattack says:

      I agree. D is the key to this series. If the Spurs can muster up some of their vintage D from the their previous championships (I’m talking to you Tim, Tony, Manu and Stephen) and the young guns follow suit (Tiago, Gary, Kawhi, and Danny) then throw in a ‘nasty’ Dejuan and we got ourselves a series again! (Also less minutes for Bonner, he is a huge liability on D)

  11. Kaiily says:

    The Spurs and the Thunder have to stop focusing on that they are playing each other. They need to direct their focus as if they are bashing’em and smashing’em, and next! Their frame of mind should be like piranhas. Always at the ready to feed on their next opponent. The way that they are both playing now, if either went up against the Heat, they’d more than likely need stretchers and ambulances.

    Although, the Heat lost the past 2 games, they are still playing like sharks, and forcing the Celtics to flail like a school of piranhas. The Celtics had to get it together, just as the Spurs and the Thunder will.

    All of the teams are gnawing at each other ferociously, but, the Heat are standing at the ready.

  12. Heatlatinofan says:

    @basketball wizard spurs oldest??? seriously??? Heats are older than spurs in average age. only TD and Manu are over 30 in spurs the rest are relatively young

    • northpole says:

      not really so young, Jackson, Booner, Diaw and Parker are also all 30+… wizard was being sarcastic, dont waste ur time to reply on such a nonsense…

  13. sctx says:

    pffft, there is a box score if you want to check it, Blair played all but the fist 2 1/2 minutes ans Spurs outscored the Thunder by 8…. he led the Spurs physically through 3/4 of last year when they dominated the league, and only when Pop decided that Dinosaur McDyss should start, did the Spurs falter….and Blair remained a starter this year until late when Pop wanted more finesse and scoring from Diaw., so really don’t know where you come up with the idea he is not physically up to the task.. I pity Perkins if Blair starts Monday nite and OKC won’t see the paint!!!!!

    • DM8488 says:

      Blair seems outta shape and i think he cant compete the full 48, and that maybe what pop sees in Blair. but hey im no expert and maybe just my old eyes lol

  14. TD says:

    Who win Game 5, who will win the series.

    But I hope Spurs win as their chance of getting rings is diminishing, OKC is still young

  15. OMG! says:

    @Basketball wizard! I don’t think you’re a wizard of basketball dude! OKC and the Spurs are championship caliber teams! Both of them! And I’m not a fan of either! Give credit where it is due!

  16. marc says:

    fear the blair

  17. OKC2012 says:

    If this series is gonna have teams winning each of their home games, I LOVE OKC’s chances in a game 7 in San Antonio, Spurs have been playing out of their minds, but them kind of starting to fall apart a bit is not that crazy to imagine, remember the Spurs had 2 extremely easy series before this, Utah LOL, and a beat up Clippers team who was really too hurt to attack, even tho Spurs would have won that anyways.

    OKC played some well rounded series against Dallas and Lakers, in both series they had come from behind wins, close games, generally a harder time than the Spurs have had.

    Now you have to think the Spurs rolling through the playoffs until now had a lot to do with the fact they were crushing and had lots of rest between series, and it’s not that crazy to think that the longer this series goes, it just does not benefit them rest wise.

    Ginobili and Parker don’t even seem like they made the trip to OKC and have completely disappeared, big chance that Perkins and Serge don’t come like this in the next games, but Thabo was the difference in game 3 like they did in game 4, Harden can come up big, Westbrook has been waiting for the game to come to him which actually helps the team, and he will have his way eventually in this series.

    This is just a great series where anything can happen, it’s nice to watch some real ball. Good luck to both teams, but I’m taking OKC in 6 or 7 games depending on if the Spurs show up in game 5

  18. MGS12 says:

    Spurs seem to lack the energy these past 2 games. Sjax is right. They need to hit first. Otherwise, a heat-thunder finals will be inevitable. It’s not the end of the world for them yet but if they surrender game 5 to OKC, then I think they’re done…

    • Pfft says:

      Thunder in the finals was inevitable when, in the 4th of game 3, the Spurs were down by 27 and threw in the towel.

      • Pfft says:

        Uhh.. EARLY in the 4th.

      • .....justplayball !! says:

        Surely you have watched enough of pro ball to know it is not over till the 4th game is won…..great series so far ……. both teams holding service on their home court as they should when both teams are this good…. OKC will be going ALL OUT early to win game 5 ’cause they do not want to be in a close game in the end at SA …..When the bigs were shooting Alot in game 4, I, like many, said fire away…. can’t hit that many???/ I/we were wrong ….. that kind of shooting…..if it seen again….THEN that will be something to be considered…. props to the OKC bigs for a tremendous game!!! Tonight’s game is really gonna be good…..win or lose….. GO_SPURS_GO !!!!

  19. TheLogo44 says:

    Serge Ibaka i think was the main reason why they won tthis game. Sure KD had like 18 in the 4th. (Props for that) But ima pick Spurs in 7 only cause i dont see Serge not missing and scoring 26 again against the Spurs. We know Popovich is gonna make improvents around the paint defense to. So ima just guess this KD gets his 27ish points. Westbrook gonna get his 23 or sum And maybe James Harden has a good game with like 20. But dont think Ibaka nor Kendrick gonna score like they did Tonight.

    • kenny says:

      Yeah Ibaka scored 26 but westbrook didn’t even get 10. So consider that in the next games. But honestly the way this series is going, you can’t predict the outcome of any of the games. I hope OKC wins game 5!

      • DM8488 says:

        i think we are seeing the Thunder take whats open by the way of POPs D schemes. many outside of OKC dont really see how good Ibaka really is from 8-12 ft. he doesnt shoot that much. but he is a very smooth shooter who on another team would have a pretty good ppg avg.

    • Belizeboy says:

      Well duh Ibaka or Perkins most likely won’t have games like this at San Antonio, but now the pressure is on the Spurs to worry about Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka and Sefolosha (who’s been stepping up). Perkins is never a offensive threat unless you D is just that bad. Anyhow I’ll bet OKC takes this in 6.

  20. basketball wizard says:

    Man u have to admit that okc is one of the worse teams in the leaugue. There having a hard time against the spurs who are like the oldest and most untalented team in the leaugue.

    • basketball wizard says:

      lebron james is no were near as good as jeremy lin. lin was deffinately the best player this yr in nba.

      • kenny says:

        You have no idea of the game of basketball!!! Please stop watching this beautiful game, seeing as how you do not deserve to because of your ignorance and clear favoritism!

      • KareemOfTheCrop says:

        Terrible troll attempt. I’m not even mad.

  21. sctx says:

    maybe Pop will wake up and realize that with Blair in the game, for a quarter, the Thunder only stepped in the paint one time….Thunder want to bumps some bodies, let them bump Blair!!!….great series, this is the championship!

    • true that.. says:

      the spurs being this deep, blair, mills dont c any action at all, dejuan blair is a big body (by width rather than by height for his position), i remember his plays from last year, getting all those rebounds, jump shots etc…

      • Pfft says:

        Yeah. He played all of what?? 3 minutes last night? The dude is not physically up to the challenge.

    • JHCT says:

      Yeah I think it’s time to get Blair playing some big minutes…. I was waiting for Matt B to find his 3 point form but he’s really struggling. Tiago Splitter seems to crumble under the pressure and he needs to stop spreading butter on his hands. Dejuan needs to come back and bring some balls to the defense.

    • paks says:

      you’re right sctx. i hope blair gets more minutes because he can give them much needed d and energy. go spurs!!! i would hatae to see you lose this series after all that you’ve done.