Fred's Note: I wrote this the day after Game 6. It's filled with deserved emotion and is knowingly biased. I thought about not publishing it, but decided I wanted you to know how I felt, since my new posts will most likely be influenced by my final opinions of the series, right or wrong. Enjoy or hate, it's up to you.)
That series was simply unfair. The more level-headed of you will give OKC credit for beating the Spurs; I will not. That series was dominated by illegal play. It was illegal play that the NBA allowed so that their darling Thunder could get past a superior team. Have no doubt, the Spurs were the best team in the NBA this year. The only way to beat someone superior over a seven game series is to cheat and not get penalized for it, and that is just what happened to the Spurs. They were cheated.
Someone has to talk about this on the national stage. If this happened to the Lakers, there would be riots, (seriously, those people are crazy. This is cause for rioting, if you're insane and have little to lose. Coincidentally, the San Antonio natives that are insane and have little to lose are Lakers fans, and thus there will be no rioting in SA.)
The egregious calls were just that: outlandish and obvious. They were so obviously poor and one-sided that even the commentators were baffled. Reggie Miller doesn't know what's going on most of the time and even he realized that the Spurs were being cheated. The egregious calls killed us because the Thunder were so deadly on the fast break.
Every time the officials missed an obvious call, and it happened many, many times, the Thunder scored. So each of these instances had a -4 point impact on the Spurs. The two free-throws that never took place and the two points the Thunder inevitably scored on the other end. More than that, it gave the Thunder confidence to continue to foul the Spurs. If they aren't going to call that, why not hold onto jerseys, undercut shooters, and hit their elbows as they release the ball? There's no penalty, only a reward. The timing of these egregious no-calls were nothing short of impeccable, if you were rooting for the Thunder. EVERY TIME the Spurs made a run the officials found a way to stop their momentum.
Some may argue that the Spurs also played physically, and that is true. But here's what's unfair about it. In a physical game in which neither team was able to run an offense, guess which team benefits? The one that doesn't run an offense anyway. The Thunder have three isolation players that make a good percentage of low percentage shots. That's what they do and that's why the Spurs are better in a vacuum. The Spurs take high percentage shots and the Thunder take low percentage shots. Over 48 minutes of action, the Spurs win. That's why the Spurs are the superior team.
In order to get around inevitability, down 2-0, the Thunder decided to foul the Spurs out of their offensive sets. I want to separate the egregious calls that the officials made from the style of illegal basketball that they allowed the Thunder to execute. They allowed the Thunder to foul the Spurs into taking low percentage shots. It was their only hope. They bet that the officials would allow them to cheat and they were correct.
Before game three took place, I wrote that the Thunder's only shot at getting back into this series was to foul and not get called for it. The Thunder had to find a way to take away the Spurs' high percentage shots. Regardless of what the media will tell you, the Thunder are not a good defensive team. However, they are a strong, athletic team. The Thunder went small not so that they could beat us offensively, but so that they could foul us more consistently and effectively.
I've watched enough basketball for both of us. I understand that those egregious calls are simply part of the game. But this not only crossed the line, it spat in the face of the essence of basketball. We were treated to 20 games of the most beautiful offensive display the NBA has ever seen. It was taken away by the officials. OKC cheated and the officials stood back and allowed it to happen.
Again, the egregious calls killed the Spurs' momentum, but the true injustice was the style of illegal play that the Thunder were allowed to execute for 48 minutes. They held, tripped, body checked, and slapped their way to victories that should not only have an asterisk, but an exclamation point followed by David Stern's big head.
Spurs fans, I am sorry. I am sorry that the Spurs had the best team and the NBA changed it's rules mid-series to take the trophy from us. Tim Duncan deserves more respect than that. In Game 6, the free-throw disparity was 31 to 18 in favor of the Thunder. The Thunder did not play a single defensive possession without fouling the Spurs. THE THUNDER FOULED THE SPURS ON EVERY POSSESSION, and somehow the Thunder were given 13 more free throw attempts.
Just pick a Spurs' player that's off ball and watch the tactics that the Thunder employed to keep him from moving. Better yet, just watch Dereck Fisher. He's too slow and old to fairly guard any of our players, on ball or off. He fouled every possession, just as the rest of his team did. It's absurd. It's unfair. It's a travesty and I will not be watching the rest of the playoffs.
I do not mind losing a fair series at all. In fact, I wish the Thunder beat us in a fair fashion. I would be extremely content with that. I do not like being cheated and it bothers me to no end that the NBA has not admitted that their officials are terrible. They all need to be fired. All of them. Hire new officials. The new ones could not be worse and at least would not carry clear biases as Joey Crawford does into each Spurs game.
I'm glad that our good friend Latin D wrote something optimistic because I'm simply too irate at this point to find a silver-lining. I can't believe the NBA allowed a team to play illegally for four games in a row. It's depressing and unfair. I cry foul!