It was saturday the 26th of April 2014 4:30pm et. The weather was nice in Dallas, Texas as Game 3 of Round 1 in the Western Conference playoffs between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks tipped off. I was sitting in front of my computer the weather outside was dark but warm in the little city of south Germany that I live in.
Everything was alright, the game started and I was confident that my Spurs, who lost Game 2 in a blowout fashion, would finally come through and beat the Mavs by 10 in a convincing way to show the world that Game 2 was a fluke and we still got this series in five maybe six games. 3 hours (or 48 minutes of playing time) later I stood in my room discombobulated. I couldn't believe what I saw, I couldn't believe that after my Spurs blew a 5 point lead in the last minutes of the game and finally got back up by two just lost the game at the buzzer courtesy of Vince "half-man half-amazing" Carter.
But after the referees reviewed the shot and said it was in time and a three, I was speechless. Maybe we didn't needed this game that much and if my Spurs win this series in 6 it will be just a sidenote or an asterisk if you will, but after all I've gone through the whole game I felt robbed.
The Spurs who fought through adversity all regular season long struggled for the first time since Game 7 of the NBA Finals 2013 when they couldn't win that ring that should have been theirs in Game 6. My fan heart struggled too.
And it wasn't because this Spurs team - that I'm rooting for since 2002 - spoiled the heck out of me winnig three titles in 5 years, but it was because like in 2012 when I thought we were invincible again, we weren't, again.
Every Spurs fan knows that every year we are fighting for the championship. We are not a loosely assembled Mavs team that got the 8th seed and is now making noise by playing competitive basketball against a 1st seed, we are the Silver and Black. We have the best coach in basketball, the best power forward of all time, a french point guard who is lethal in the paint and a 6th man who is easily one of the best at that role that ever played. So we want to win every year and especially this year after we should've won last year.
So why aren't we as competitive as our opponents? Is it because we aren't respecting their talent? I would say maybe. Is it because they want it more than we do? It sure seems like that. Is it because they play like they want it and we don't? I would say yes.
But what can we do here? I mean we essentially won 1 game, lost 1 game and had a coin flip game, so I shouldn't panic and I don't but I am just asking, do we really want it? And if so, why don't we play like that? The answer to me seems that we kinda have the problem that we got too comfortable playing our style of basketball, that we are susceptible to fail when we have to adjust. I don't know if the Mavs or Rick Carlisle rather know this but it seems like we can't adjust playing a different game style than we are used to against this Mavs team.
And although I think we made some adjustments in game 3 there was still one thing we were missing that maybe will give us the edge in the next 3 games cause those are the games we have to win to win the series. We need some 'nasty'. Of course I'm alluding to the famous ingame timeout speech Gregg Popovich gave in Game 1 in the 2012 Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City right before the 4th quarter with his team down by 9 and a need of some inspiring words.
And boy did Coach Pop delivered. It was the first time I could actually watch playoff basketball live because it was either not available in Germany or too expensive before, so I haven't heard many huddles with Coach Pop in action, but the next thing I heard at this particular moment was special.
As you can hear in that huddle Coach Pop told his players that he 'wants some nasty' and that they seemed to him hesitant and unconfident, which was true in every way. And after he told them that and they got out in the 4th quarter in San Antonio that evening, I saw some of the best player response to a coach a fan could have hoped for. Players were hitting shots, drawing charges, played good defense, forcing turnovers, hustling for every ball and were you know 'nasty' or hungry for the win. I saw a team that didn't wanted to go 0-1 in a NBA playoff run they dominated til this point with sweeping two rounds.
Now back after 3 games in the 2014 Round 1 NBA playoffs I saw players that either didn't wanted to win or didn't cared to win, some players played with effort (The Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili) but the role players and bench guys and in at least one of those games even members of the Big 3 didn't do enough.
So I was taken back mentally to that game, before that 4th quarter in 2012 when I also thought that our effort level wasn't there and even that we didn't won that series, we won that game because we played together and with effort and passion. I don't say winning one game will help us, we have to win 3, but if the team remembers that speech everytime for the next 3 games, we can pull this off.
So come on Spurs 'I want some nasty'.