A confident Rudy Gay proclaimed that the San Antonio Spurs will reach the NBA Finals in response to a post-game question on Monday.
During San Antonio’s 123-96 thrashing of the Philadelphia 76ers, small forward Rudy Gay erupted for a loaded stat line of 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting, six rebounds three assists, a steal and a block. In an exceptional effort on both sides of the floor, Gay dominated his matchup against All Star Jimmy Butler, who finished the night with six points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Recent weeks have seen Gay return to a level of play on par with the best seasons of his career. Over his last seven games, Rudy is averaging 18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting 50 percent or better from the field in each of those outings. Gay’s confidence is through the roof and his body is in its best shape since rupturing his Achilles tendon back in Sacramento.
Because of his improved play and the team’s current upward trend, it was unsurprising to hear that Gay has his eyes set on the Larry O’Brien trophy. In the postgame scrum following the victory over Philly, Gay made an interesting remark about his end-of-season outlook.
A reporter asked Gay about where this season ranks amongst his best up to this point in time, to which Gay responded: “That’s something I can answer at the end of the season when we win a championship.”
More reaction from Rudy… asked if this is shaping up to be his best season, he responded “That’s something I can answer at the end of the season when we win a championship.” #Spurs @TheAthleticNBA pic.twitter.com/cN4zQEZmhp
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 18, 2018
The road to recovery was a long the grueling one for Gay. A tear of that caliber to a veteran’s Achilles is career-threatening, so his return to top form is an outstanding achievement. Though his accolades are limited, Gay has been one of the most consistently effective small forwards in the game for more than a decade and the logical next landmark for a player like him is a ring.
Though you wouldn’t know it from their current standings, these Spurs are operating under the assumption that they’ll compete for a chip this year. Some may think they’re getting ahead of themselves, but this is the appropriate mindset for Gay to have.
As a veteran leader, his job to contribute both on the hardwood and in the locker room. By setting this standard, Gay is sending the message that San Antonio is not to be messed with this year.
Blowing out a legitimate Eastern Conference contender to finish a six-game home stand is a great way to set the tone for the Spurs going forward.