I know this is somewhat late. But I'm one of those Spurs fans who takes losses such as these very hard. I have to forget about it for a few days and then get back to what went wrong.
So here's my take on Game 6 and why the Spurs are not playing in the NBA Finals this year:
Aside from the terrible foul calls and no calls that went against the Spurs in the 4th, there were a whole host of mistakes the Spurs made, and because of those you could say that we deserved to lose. They should have never been in in the situation of a close game in the 4th where they could have been hurt so bad by generous calls, no-calls, and Derek Fisher three pointers.
Game 6 should not have even been close going back to the early part of the 4th quarter.
Here are my two biggest gripes.
A lack of discipline on defense. Way too many mental mistakes. OKC got all of this credit and praise for maturing as a team and being the "young guns," beating the Spurs with their youth and energy. But the truth is, that the Spurs could have easily won the series by playing smarter, more disciplined defense. In my opinion that's more of a failure of the Spurs to do something that they should have done. Secondly, from a coaching standpoint, I was upset to see Neal and Leonard getting the minutes that they did in the 4th quarter. Neal is a defensive liability. And Leonard is a rookie. If you know that on offense you are going to get the ball in the hands of Duncan and Parker then you really don't need guys like Neal on the floor at a time when defensive stops are crucial. I hope the coaching staff learns from this one. As for Leonard, I was surprised to see a rookie on the floor while the Spurs season was on the line. I suppose that says something about the lack of defensive depth. It wouldn't have hurt so bad for me to watch Diaw or dare I say, even Bonner, getting outplayed by OKC since they are veterans. The last thing I want to see is a rookie and a relatively young player like Neal making mental mistakes. In my judgement, Bonner is actually more disciplined and fundamentally sound on defense than he's given credit for. And I think that's come as a result of experience.
But back to the lack of discipline of defense. This is something that we have seen throughout the year from the Spurs and I would say it's been by far the most frustrating thing to watch. The Spurs teams of old had way better discipline. These Spurs help way too much on defense and thus get burned for easy buckets. It's usually wide open 3's or layups/dunks inside. Neal and Duncan were the culprits I saw most often in Game 6. Neal has no business trying to help against Kevin Durant down under the basket. He shouldn't have been sagging so far off of his man who was standing in the corner. In fact, he should have stayed very tight, so as to prevent the offensive player from having the option to pass out to the corner. In that case, we would have had a couple of bad shots resulting in misses or turnovers, and they may have turned into transition buckets on offense. But instead, Neal and Duncan were too anxious to help, left his man for a quick second, and we got burned by corner threes from Sefolosha and Fisher. It was either that or high percentage shots inside. I really don't think OKC would have scored a ton of points if the Spurs players would have played more disciplined and stuck with their assignments.
I know everyone wants to be sportsmanlike and give credit to OKC for hitting so many shots on offense and closing out the series. But I don't look at it that way, and I don't think it's because I'm a sore loser. I first look at all of the Spurs mental errors on defense as allowing OKC to play so well on offense. Clean up those errors and then let's see how many points they score against us.
Not as much to say here. My biggest gripe was that Tony should have attacked more right off the dribble in the 4th quarter. Eventually he did, but by then it was too late (thanks to some tough calls). I think there were several situations were waiting for the pick and roll actually gave OKC an advantage, because it allowed them to set up their help defense. Parker should have been more aggressive by attacking immediately whoever was guarding him, going straight to the basket. He has a quickness advantage over everyone on OKC. So in the future, I hope he decides to just take over and be aggressive late in games. He can't be afraid and he can't be too unselfish. He has to play like he does when he's mad. When Manu's not having a great game, the Spurs need Tony to keep the defense on their heels. In fact, when you do that late in games on the road, it can really deflate the home team and carry over to poor shot selection when they try to immediately respond on offense. Tony really should have scored +40 points like he did against OKC in the regular season, after he was mad about not being added to the All-Star team. Then it would have been a different story going to a Game 7 back in S.A. What I saw in Game 6 was nice guy, team player Tony. I think if he had the green light and would have taken it, the Spurs would have prevailed in spite of the terrible defense. Instead we watched Manu heaving up 3's late in the shot clock, Tony taking outside shots completely out of rhythm, and other guys trying to create their own shot which sometimes resulted in either turnovers, misses and transition buckets . Tony, just attack the paint all game long especially as soon as you bring the ball up the court. The Spurs will not only win more games, but they will have fewer games that are close.
That's all I really have to say about Game 6. I don't see it like media pundits described it, that the Spurs were simply outplayed by OKC. The Spurs played like it was an elimination game, shooting lights out (over 50%) in the first half of Game 6. They should have won. But they blew it with so many mistakes on the defensive end in the 2nd half. I hope they learn from watching film on this series. Sometimes it's the mental mistakes that can make or break a series. That's what I saw here.
I know that a new season will bring new changes no matter what. But I'm not reading into anything about the Spurs having to make huge changes or acquisitions. They have a good enough team to win another championship. They just need to learn from their mistakes and to not repeat them.
With a heavy heart but a clearer mind,