Noon Rehash: Over Pressure

The only known photographic evidence of the Spurs' secret handshake. - Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Composure permeates everything the Spurs do. Last night's 35-point drubbing of the Thunder was just the latest example.

Last night, in their 35-point shellacking of a clearly bewildered Thunder team, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker set a league record for most playoff wins by a trio. Much has been said and much will be said about how rare and incredible a feat this is. "Longevity" will be the buzz word of choice, the first and last thing said about this history making triumvirate, but on its own, that word only scratches the surface of what makes these geezers special.

The impact of longevity is relative. Nearly every team in the league has a guy in its colors who has been in the NBA for a long time. There are guys with unique size or important skills who will be able to carve out a spot on a team for many seasons. But mere time is not enough to earn such high praise. Longevity has to yield progress. It has show improvement. It has to develop composure.

Watching the game Wednesday night, that's the word that stuck the most. Composure permeates everything the Spurs do. It's in RC Buford's roster movements. It's in Gregg Popovich's coaching. It's in the way Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have carried themselves for over a decade.

Composure is what has made the longevity possible. We call the Spurs robots because they show no signs of overreaction. They don't engage in panic trades. (Sorry, Richard Jefferson who?) They have no predilection for emotional outbursts because they see no utility in them. Players on the team go through swings of streaky shooting, of time in Popovich's doghouse, of extended benching all without betraying even a drop of sweat that might indicate a lack of patience or a conflict of visions. It all cascades. The team now is as composed as it ever has been because the team before it was more composed than the one before that and so on and so on into that setting sun.

For all the composure that the Spurs carried into the game Wednesday night, the Thunder seemed to have left all of theirs in the locker room. They jumped out to a lead early, but there was Kevin Durant missing defensive assignments. There was Russell Westbrook devolving into the player he doesn't have to be, taking bad shots and getting panicked into forcing the issue.

It all seemed to come to a head at the end of the second quarter. The game was pretty close, as Westbrook's layup put the Thunder behind by only five with two and half minutes to go in the first half. But after that, the Spurs went on a tear that would extend over the rest of the game. Danny Green got free for a three when Durant slept on a defensive rotation. Durant scored. Boris Diaw answered. The Spurs got a stop. Durant got confused, and Green hit another three-pointer. The Spurs got another stop. Manu Ginobili hit a three-pointer. Russell Westbrook attempted a really bad three-point shot and swung down his arms to try to draw a foul. The officials called an offensive foul. In the span of 150 seconds, the Spurs turned a five-point lead into a fourteen-point lead and never looked back.

I don't need to remind you that the Thunder are doing everything they can to find something that works in the absence of Serge Ibaka. A lack of composure here is completely expected. But the Thunder have had opportunities to work through these things in this season, and the team and its coach have lacked the foresight to experiment when possible. It takes a patient hand to find those spots, and Popovich has perfected using the regular season as an incubator for postseason success.

After the game, Boris Diaw said the Thunder "gave up early," and it was hard not to get the same impression watching the game. The Thunder are young and talented, and their core will be in this league for a long time. But as the Spurs know from the bitter defeats of their last two playoff races, it often takes brutal experiences like the one the Thunder had to develop the composure necessary for victory. There's little chance the Thunder can win this series, but they have every opportunity to learn from it.

Be sure to read Jesus Gomez's recap if you haven't already.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

"Nobody's happy in our locker room. We're very focused."

– Tony Parker, kicking sand in your face


ODDS AND ENDS

  • At one point, Tim Duncan attempted a wide-open three-pointer as the shot clock ended. He didn't hit it, but I desperately wanted him to, just so he could look at Caron Butler and motion hanging up a phone.
  • Before the game, Rony Turiaf was on a local San Antonio radio broadcast talking about how when he and Boris Diaw were in high school they would go watch Tony Parker play. Parker started playing when he was very young, but imagining Turiaf and Diaw as high school students cheering on Parker still makes my head hurt.
  • Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili took turns making crazy passes. Tony's was more acrobatic:

    But Manu's covered more distance:

    Both great in their own way.
  • Hamuketsu is a wacky new fad in Japan (of course). It involves people taking pictures of hamster rear ends, which is mostly cute and maybe a little creepy. I tweeted about it on Wednesday, and right as the game started, my buddy Kyle sent me this:
    Hamuketsu
    Heart you, internet.

  • Charles Barkley is a knucklehead, but it's part of his thing. Him making fat jokes is funny because he's fat, too. That's it. That's the bit. It's okay to laugh at it. I have female relatives who are big, some for reasons genetic and others for reasons appetite, and I also have a daughter. Size can be a difficult issue for women, and I understand that. But Charles Barkley is not the final word on this, and if you are getting really offended by what he's saying, you're giving him more power than you should. He's like a WWE villain, and many of you are pretending like this whole thing is "real." I just can't fathom working up a sweat watching stuff like this:

    Only moments before the NBA on TNT crew shows stuff like this:

    It's okay to giggle at a fat joker like Charles Barkley making fun of you when he's so willing to make fun of himself. Make your t-shirt protests. Have some fun with it. But don't let him get under your skin, however much of it you have.

  • Yesterday, the NBA gave Lance Stephenson a $5,000 fine for a pretty hilarious flop during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The fine was warranted, but I'm still confused. That's the flop that earns a fine? Did the league lose all the footage from the first round? Did they forget about this?:

  • A while back I mentioned Fattboy Burgers & Dogs near the top of San Antonio's burger rankings. Looks like Kawhi Leonard agrees...
    Kawhi_burger

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 16: Number of minutes Kawhi Leonard played in the game, due equally to early foul trouble and the Spurs going supernova with him on the bench.
  • 20: The Spurs average margin of victory at home during these playoffs.
  • 50%: Thunder free throw percentage for the night. The team missed five of their ten freebies, and at one point, Kevin Durant missed two in a row. Weird.
  • 70%: Danny Green three-point percentage for the night. He hit seven of his ten attempts, matching the team record for most three-pointers in a playoff game that he set in the Finals.
  • 111: After Wednesday night's match, the number of playoff games won by the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili trio, an NBA record.
  • -2: Marco Belinelli found a way to have a negative +/- in a game the Spurs won by 35 points. He's been radically inconsistent during the playoffs, so expect him to drop a handful of threes and break open a game any day now.

GAME MVP

Green

DANIEL RICHARD "FLAMING LIPS" GREEN, JR.

PTS

FGM/FGA

3PM/3PA

REB

STL

AST

+/-

MIN

21

7/11

7/10

3

3

1

+24

28:25


There's not much you can add to highlight Danny Green's nutso box score. He was on fire all night, and he played a solid defensive game, adding three steals and only one foul. He had 21 points on just eleven field goal attempts on a night when Westbrook and Durant combined for 30 on 40. This kind of shooting night gives me an excuse to post this Danny Green commercial. While that shot of the paper hitting the cup was added in post (I was actually there when they filmed it), I bet he could've hit that shot last night.

BIRD IS THE WORD

THE GAME IN SONG

GOING FORWARD

After the game, every Spurs player that could be reached mentioned the same thing: 2012. No, not the hilarious comedy starring John Cusack. They were all talking about the still painful memory of going up two games on the Thunder in the 2012 Western Conference Finals and the bitter reminder that things can fall apart quickly in the playoffs. These two teams are radically different than their 2012 incarnations, and the very thought that the Spurs could lose four in a row or even four of the next five sounds crazy pills. But there's nothing wrong with holding onto the pain of 2012. It makes the Spurs work harder. It makes them appreciate what it takes to keep moving. They'll go on to win this series in four or five games, talking about 2012 all along the way, and the Revenge of the Nerds tour will keep rolling, on to its next stop, on to its next narrative.

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