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Stealing Ideas: Wild Predictions and Thank-You Notes

USA TODAY Sports



My own approach to creativity and originality lies in taking someone else's work and making it like 5% mine. In the present case, I plan to steal take inspiration from two different sources: PtR's Fred Silva and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon". The first half of this piece was inspired by this great post by Mr. Silva, and the second half is inspired by Late Night's popular "Thank-You Notes" bit. And if you continue to read on, you may bask in my innovative spirit.

Six Wild Predictions For Game Six of the 2013 NBA Finals

Every game of the 2013 Finals since the game one shocker has featured a new wrinkle from coaches Popovich and Spoelstra, and every evening has featured a new hero or two. The momentum has shifted back and forth, unceasingly and without fail, like a dramatic Nadal-Federer point. And since Tuesday night is the first elimination game of these Finals, look for things to get weird.

1. Gregg Popovich sits Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard for rest

Why not? Kawhi's got a trick knee, Parker's got the tender hammy, and Tim and Manu are like 89 in human years. We've got a one game cushion - why not let our Big Three and The Future rest up for a fresh-as-can-be game seven? It's sort of like the decision baseball managers face every postseason - do I bring back my ace on short rest, or do I bring him back as scheduled? "Rest versus rust" has worked out well during the season and in the playoffs - might as well ride that horse.

2. The "Other Guys" will win game six anyway

Again, I ask, why not? We still have Finals-MVP-in-waiting Danny Green active and playing. We still have The Everlasting Bronstopper out there, Mr. Boris Diaw. Gary Neal can light it up in the AAA, we've seen that. TMac is an NBA legend, we can turn him loose on an unprepared defense. We'll reactivate Aron Baynes and all have a good laugh as he knocks a few skulls together, the way Moe used to on the Three Stooges shorts.

3. Erik Spoelstra will resign his position effective immediately, to "spend more time with his family"

Pat Riley will be adamant that Spoelstra is absolutely committed to being a better family man and that he hates to have to do this, but gee, someone has to coach this team. Might as well be the one Heat executive with extensive NBA Finals experience, Riley himself. But, Riley will add, this is in no way a self-serving move designed to get Riley another coaching ring and former coach Spoelstra will not be coaching the Orlando Magic the very next season. He certainly will not send his Magic to the NBA Finals in a few years with Nerleans Noel as the defensive anchor of his team, flanked by a stretch four in Chandler Parsons and big European shooting guard with three-point range Danilo Galinari. Never happen.

4. Tiago Splitter will retire at the end of the Finals, citing "extreme performance trauma"

THE GREATEST BLOCK in NBA HISTORY EVAR will be responsible for the premature end of the Spurs big man, because NO ONE ever blocked a dunk before. Especially when the dunker was a guy with limited hops and the shot-blocker can hit his head on the rim without trying real hard and can not only play all five basketball positions, but could probably play three defensive positions, two offensive positions, and placekicker in the NFL. That blocked dunk doesn't always drink beer, but when it does, it prefers Dos Equis.

5. Matt Bonner will hit four threes in game six

This is probably the only serious, or at least the most serious, prediction to make this list. I always feel like veterans that have put a lot of time in the NBA will have at least one shining moment on a big stage, and we've seen it several times with our Spurs: Jaren Jackson, career scrub, turned into Ray Allen for a few games in the 1999 playoffs. In game two versus Phoenix in 2003, Danny Ferry, he of the wildly disappointing NBA career, got 9 points and 10 rebounds when David Robinson and Kevin Willis were both out and the Spurs were trailing 0-1. Steve Kerr flashed back to the mid-90s in game six of the Western Conference Finals. When the Spurs came out flat in game one of the 2005 NBA Finals, Glenn Robinson had a dunk that helped energize the long-rested, rusty Spurs. In that same vein, Matt Bonner has had a better playoffs in 2013 than he's ever had, but hasn't had one of those signature Bonner games where he goes nuts from three. Four threes isn't exactly going nuts, but for Bonner, in a closeout victory in the NBA Finals, it's close enough.

6. In his first official act as NBA Commissioner...

Adam Silver will present the San Antonio Spurs with the Lawrence O'Brien NBA Championship trophy. And David Stern will be in the basement of the AAA giving Pat Riley a parting gift of an extra-special Stern Tongue Lashing. (See Erik, resigning wasn't such a bad move)

Thank-You Notes

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank you, Miami Heat reserve forward Juwan Howard...when you injured Derek Anderson during the Spurs-Mavericks series in 2001, you might have doomed the Spurs to a humiliating sweep against the Lakers, but: if Anderson plays, has the series of his life and leads the Spurs into the Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, maybe Anderson comes back and signs a multi-year deal with the Spurs. And maybe for that reason, the Spurs decide not to move on a draft-stash from 1999, a crazy lefty from Argentina. And without him, we can forget about titles in 2003, 2005, 2007, and perhaps 2013. Derek Anderson thanks you too: thanks to your thuggishness, his career takes a different turn, one where he won an NBA title with your Miami Heat. Against your old team, the Dallas Mavericks.

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank you, Boris Diaw...for showing the world that a fat guy can successfully defend the best player in the NBA on the biggest stage. If Paul Westphal had put Oliver Miller on Michael Jordan 20 years ago, maybe Charles Barkley has a ring now.

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank you, Josh Kroenke...for letting your 2013 Executive of the Year and 2013 Coach of the Year walk. Sure they contibuted mightily to the greatest regular season in Nuggets NBA history, but you've got to show the world that you really do know what you're doing. I was worried about the Spurs trying to defend their title next year against a team that I thought of as Miami Heat West, but it seems I no longer have to. Now Andre Iguodala wants out. Oh heck, let me just make this entry shorter...

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank you, Nepotism.

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank you, Miami Heat PA guy...for knowing that there's a fine line between "dramatic effect" and "way overdone" and taking a Bob Beamonesque leap over that line. Michael Buffer and Andres Cantor think you're gimmicky.

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank you, ESPN/ABC analyst Bill Simmons...for not liking not liking not liking not liking not liking liking not liking not liking not liking openly hating not liking not liking not liking liking the Spurs all these years.

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank you, Kobe Bryant's Achilles tendon...for making the first-round sweep that much easier, as well as for enabling Dwight Howard to display to the whole world his great leadership abilities...which leads me to:

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank You, Dwight Howard...for forcing the casual viewer to finally, for probably the only time ever, root for the Spurs in a Spurs-Lakers matchup.

(cue heartfelt piano music)

Thank You, Stephen Jackson...for making Pop choose between you and Danny Green.

***

And finally, thank you, San Antonio Spurs. To Tony Parker, for thriving in a complimentary role for years, then shifting seamlessly into the team leader role when the time came. You're a warrior. To Tim Duncan, for following in the Gervin-Robinson tradition of the team superstar raising the team to a new level. Gervin put us on the map, Robinson kept us on the map, and Timmy hung the banners. To Manu Ginobili, for being Manu Ginobili. When we needed you to give us a chance to go up 3-2, you responded with your best game of 2012-13. To Danny Green, for performing with confident humility. To Kawhi Leonard, who not only needed to guard the best player in the game, but who needed to deliver with points, rebounds, steals, and three-point shooting throughout the Finals...and he has. Without any signs of feeling the pressure. To Gary Neal, for battling through a tough year but giving us his best game during the Finals. (A lot like Manu, actually) To Boris Diaw, whose timely defense on LeBron James has put us in a favorable position in the NBA Finals. To Tiago Splitter, who has had a tough time of things but has given us a few points and nice passes here and there. To Cory Joseph, who is showing growth and growing pains all at the same time. To Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, Nando deColo, Patty Mills, and Aron Baynes, thanks for staying ready and keeping a good attitude about it.

None of us know what's coming in the next game or two, but no matter what happens, this has been the sweetest title run of them all. If #5 is on the way, it's the sweetest of them all. If it's not to be, it's still been far more sweet than sour.

Tuesday night will be the 102nd blow to the stone. Will it be the last?

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