Spurs Link-And-Roll – 5.31.12


Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “Let those other teams, with their big-name stars, sweat the difficult long 2-pointers, the bane of stat geeks everywhere. Let dumber, less efficient teams have their stars dribble the hell out of the ball, advertising to the defense where the attack will come from, while the rest of the team, essentially no use at all, watches. That is not what San Antonio does. That’s not Tony Parker’s game.”

J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “That’s the pressing question, given this series and a potential NBA Finals matchup with the Miami Heat or the hobbled Boston Celtics. The Spurs are built to survive off nights. Tony Parker didn’t do anything special in Game 1, and when he did play like an MVP candidate in Game 2 (34 points on 16-for-21 shooting and eight assists), Tim Duncan made only two of 11 shots. The Spurs can get away with nights like that from Duncan when Kawhi Leonard gives them 18 points and 10 rebounds. It’s not that the Thunder aren’t worthy opponents. It just feels like this series is regressing, that the superiority of the Spurs is increasingly obvious. This was a more complete performance by the Spurs than in Game 1, which they won by a wider margin.”

Aaronstampler of Pounding the Rock: “I don’t fault Scotty Brooks for the hack-a-Splitter at all. They needed to do something to break up the flow and the rhythm, before the game really got away from them. Every coach in that situation is looking for that “Marty McSorley illegal stick (ugh) moment.” In 1993 the Los Angeles Kings were moments away from going up 2-0 on the road in the NHL Finals, clinging to a 2-1 lead when Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers told the refs to check the curvature of McSorley’s stick. It was deemed illegal, the Canadiens were awarded a power play which they used to tie up and then they won in overtime. They never looked back and won the series in five games.”

Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Popovich and the Spurs of course have been the biggest practitioners of the Hack-A-Poor-Shooter over the past few year, utilizing it to great effect in the previous series against the Clippers. And in Game 2, Thunder head coach Scott Brook’s reasons for employing it were two-fold. First, the San Antonio Spurs were rolling with a brand of perfect basketball execution the world has not seen in quite some time. His young team was suffocating under the tremendous pressure the Spurs offense was applying and they needed a reprieve from the barrage of drive and kick three-pointers if only to catch their breath and regroup.”

Flop of the Night: Boris Diaw.

Kelly Boenitz of Project Spurs: “Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden combined for 88 of the Thunder’s 111 points. That means the other 7 players who logged minutes for the team scored only 23 points. Clearly the Thunder have only three guys who are going to hurt you. If the Spurs shut down just one of these guys, then the game is an even bigger blowout than it was. Maybe the Thunder don’t even get a comeback run. It’s just something to keep an eye on as the series progresses. If the Thunder get down, they rely on those three guys. Someone needs to step up defensively for the Spurs and shut at least one of them down.”

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: ” We’ve taken a couple of hours since Game 2 ended to let this realization swirl around a bit and, possibly, settle down a tad. We’ve re-watched parts of the first half and all of the second half in order to find some footing, instead of launching into hyperbole just because the home team in a seven game series has taken the first two contests. Hours later, we’re still where we started. The San Antonio Spurs’ offense is reaching levels of unending output that I haven’t seen since Michael Jordan’s Bulls were winning their titles.”

Derek Fisher: ““Well you kinda took away my answer there because that’s what I was gonna say, that’s truly what we did we did not assume that we would win four games in row which is basically what we ended up doing. We really did just focus in on winning Game 3 and then Game 3 turned into an ability to understand what it would take to win the next game and you just keep playing from there.”

Tony Parker shows great sportsmanship with Russell Westbrook.

Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: “Tony Parker had a shooting game for the ages Tuesday night.It didn’t matter where he was aiming from. He hit 5 of 6 shots from inside 10 feet, misfiring only on a twisting first-quarter layup. He was 7 for 9 from 10 to 20 feet. And he hit 4 of 6 from 20 feet and beyond to finish off a 34-point effort that was the biggest playoff scoring binge by a Spurs player since his 43-point effort against Dallas in 2009.”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: “Parker’s national team never had the same success and, until this season, he hadn’t either. Even after All-Star seasons and a Finals MVP, he was seen as the last leg of the Spurs’ Big Three on their best teams. Good, but a Hall of Famer? The 2004 postseason told of that. Then, Parker zipped by the same Derek Fisher who was on the floor Tuesday, and the Spurs took a 2-0 lead on the road to Los Angeles. Phil Jackson tweaked his defense, packing the lane and forcing Parker to take nervous jump shots. Most remember what Fisher did later to swing the series. But Parker kept working, with Chip Engelland at his side, until he added the element that has changed him. Moving to his left with a dribble, slightly leaning that way, Parker shoots a jumper that has become the Spurs’ most reliable option.”

Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “But even when the Thunder execute their strategy as soundly as their personnel allows, the Spurs are carving up Oklahoma City. There might not be anything to do; the Spurs, after all, have carved up the entire league for the last 50 games or so. But the Thunder have to try something or risk further exploitation and general paralysis on the defensive end. Players are hesitate to help each other, fearful of leaving a San Antonio shooter open or exposing a teammate in some way.”

Aaron McGuire of Gothic Ginobili: “As the Spurs get slower, the Spurs get worse. As the Spurs get faster, the Spurs get unbeatable, improving on both the defensive end AND the offensive end. They also shoot better, which speaks to Chip Engelland’s yeoman’s work in ensuring the Spurs maintain proper form on quick, set shots and the Spurs added efficiency when they force a transition-heavy, D’Antoni style of play. I discussed this a bit at 48 Minutes of Hell, so I won’t belabor the point. But really: the Spurs are great when they play fast, and more than any other team left, they’re the best at dictating the tempo and forcing teams to play fast. A deadly combination, that.”

The many faces of Tim Duncan.

Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Leonard hasn’t made Pop second guess himself either. Leonard’s decision making offensively is extremely far along for a first year NBA player. He knows when to go all the way to the rim and when to pull up short for a floater or 10 foot jumper, something too many young players with the length and spring of Leonard never grasp. He also has a quiet, underrated passing ability.”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “The only tactical adjustment Gregg Popovich need consider is making certain Splitter is on the bench once the Spurs are in the penalty situation, even if it means giving DeJuan Blair his first playing time of the series. Of course, Popovich wasn’t happy with his team’s defensive work in Game 2, so expect him to request, and I’m truly sorry to suggest it, a little more “nasty” from his defenders.”

Aaron “Hischof” Preine of Pounding the Rock: “The last few years for the San Antonio Spurs have recently been defined as a transition phase from the gritty, stalwart defense of the last decade to the high-octane, offensive minded squad of 2011-2012. After their second round sweep delivered by the Phoenix Suns in the 2010 playoffs, Coach Popovich knew a drastic change was needed in the way the Spurs played their game. The game was faster, more athletic, and featured more high quality scorers than it had ever seen before. “As we got a little older and personnel changed, we were going to go from one of the best defensive teams to a more middle-of-the-road defensive team,” said Coach Pop during a pre-game interview before game 3 of Spurs-Clippers series. “Something else had to change if we wanted to continue to win at a high level, so we went to the offense about two years ago and shifted it to pick up the pace to shift a little bit. Went a little bit from Timmy to Manu and Tony, and more attack early in the clock – kind of Mike D’Antoni-ish.”

Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland: “Parker has also changed the way he plays pick-and-rolls. He comes off of screens looking to get in the paint, but he doesn’t force it. Instead, he will kick the ball back to his big, follow his pass, and get another ball screen. Sometimes, he will need a third screen, but the Spurs patiently wait for the defense to commit an error that they can exploit. The Spurs have previously run successive pick-and-rolls, but they are doing it at a much higher rate this series. Watch them do it in the video below.”

Mike Sherman of The Oklahoman: “Same because the pattern holds in this series. Game 1 was a nail-bitter the Spurs had to pull out late. Game 2 was theirs from start to finish, but not without some anxious moments.Different because these Spurs are being compared with the great Spurs of all-time, and that’s saying a lot for a franchise that’s produced four NBA champions.”

Fans fought in the stands during Game 2.

Fred Silva of Pounding the Rock: “The only way teams can slow the Spurs’ offense down is to foul the Silver and Black without being called for it. When OKC shifted to small ball, the physicality of the game increased. It’s counter-intuitive, and I think that’s why a lot of people missed it. I hear someone asking “So, OKC took Perkins out and replaced him with a guard and you’re saying that OKC’s physicality increase?” Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”

Bill Simmons of Grantland: “Let’s start at the beginning of the second half, with the Spurs leading by 11 in one of those “even though they shot 58 percent, it still feels like they left something on the table and could go two levels higher” halves. That’s the thing about the Spurs — when you’re consistently getting layups, wide-open 3s and easy 10-footers, at some point your offensive ceiling has a retractable roof. Could they have a 75-point half in which they shoot 70 percent from the field? Could they score 30 points in a row? And why aren’t more people excited about this?”

Popovich’s tongue-lashing at Parker sums up why the Spurs continue to dominate.

Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: “Popovich has produced an epic team. The Spurs have won 20 straight games, the fourth-longest win streak in NBA history, and he’s done it with adults. The Spurs are grown-ups. They are Duncan and Parker and Ginobili, 30somethings all, multiple-NBA champions all, plus Pop, their drill sergeant of a coach and franchise-builder. They have established a culture, a seriousness, that isn’t always fun but is stunningly effective when put with the right pieces. Which the Spurs absolutely now have. So call it bum luck for the Thunder. The Boomers have done nothing wrong. The opposite is true. They’ve done almost everything right in trying to microwave the process of becoming NBA champs.”

Royce Young of Daily Thunder: “I appreciated the way Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook approached their postgame presser because they didn’t do a lot of talking about the Spurs “holding serve” or any of that usual bullcrap. They were mad. They wanted not just one win in San Antonio, but two. And they came away with none.”