May 20, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21), left, and guard Danny Green (4) react during game four of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. The Spurs defeated the Clippers 102-99 to win the series 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Superior, they are. You could even make the case that these San Antonio Spurs are dominant. Unstoppable, they are not. Just ignore what their 18-game winning streak means — they have also won 29 out of 31 games but, really, who’s counting? — and proceed to disregard the Spurs, please. I like it better this way. And while the Spurs were able to pull out another victory against the inferior Los Angeles Clippers team, that doesn’t mean they are invincible.
Quite the contrary. These Spurs are a brilliant bunch to watch; their subtle offensive connection naked to the average eye. As their three-point victory over a hobbled Clippers team suggests, though, the Spurs are not a team that can simply arrive to the court and expect to win. Some games it appears that easy — and even I get lulled into expecting every victory to be easy — but winning a professional basketball game is pretty difficult.
Teams adapt, players make adjustments and sometimes improbable shots just fall. Sometimes all three happen simultaneously, lowering the Spurs’ margin for error (just like Game 3’s first quarter showed). Over the course of an entire game or series, the Spurs will be able to defeat even the most capable opponents. I’m confident in their system, their players and their experience to prevail.
Last night, the Spurs battled Eric Bledsoe, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and a Clippers team that didn’t give away many possessions. San Antonio won, regardless. They won because they received yet another vintage Tim Duncan performance and some impressive on-ball defense Danny Green prevented Paul from receiving a sufficient angle towards the hoop. Oh, and other guys contributed too.
I would just like for Spurs fans to collectively heave a sigh of relief. San Antonio accomplished everything they should have. They garnered the best possible result and the result is rest. Now they will just sit, wait, practice, study and do other Spurs stuff in anticipation of their next opponent.
Expecting a title is a whole different story. Expecting has no place in professional sports. There is just so many variables, some tangible, some intangible, that make it impossible to reasonably expect something to happen. Even with, you should know, a team like the 2011-12 Spurs.
The Thunder could capitalize on their untapped offensive potential and eliminate the Spurs. Maybe the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics figure out the Spurs’ offensive puzzle. Or, perhaps more likely if Chris Bosh is healthy, maybe the Miami Heat’s duo of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade continue to pour through the playoffs with relative ease. Anything can happen. Anything.
So, yeah, enjoy the sweep Spurs fans. I know I will be one of the happiest people tomorrow morning. Call us dominant, superior, excellent, impressive, exciting, boring, whatever.
Just don’t call the Spurs unstoppable.
Game notesPaul finished with 23 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in 40:38 … The Clippers are now 11-3 when Paul records 20+ points and 10+ assists … Griffin added 21 points and five rebounds … Eric Bledsoe chimed in with 17 points and a lot of energy and defense … Bledsoe, Griffin and Paul combined for 61 points on their own … The San Antonio bench played well, scoring 43 points on 60.7% shooting … Tim Duncan put up his second 20-point night of the series … Duncan averaged, for the series, 21 points, 9.3 rebounds, 59.4% shooting and two blocks per game …