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A Thunder Q & A, Part II: That Just Happened

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As a follow-up to Friday's piece, and by way of alleviating the frustration of last night's loss, here's Welcome to Loud City's J.A. Sherman with his take on the Spurs' win over the Thunder. You can find my attempt at playing the encouraging "big brother" here. Know this: we'll see them again. Take it away, Sherm...

After a game like the one we had on Friday night, I feel like we're watching the original Matrix movie. Morpheus has just laid the smack down on Neo in the sparring program, looks at him panting on the floor, and simply asks, "How did I beat you?" It is not a question of condescension or malice or even arrogance. It felt like, as I posed in today's question, a big brother asking his more talented but defeated younger brother, "Do you understand what just happened there?" as if big brother wants little brother to learn, but the lesson learned cannot be short-cut.


"How did I beat you?"


It wasn't because the Spurs are faster, although at times they are.

It wasn't because the Spurs are better scorers than the Thunder, although at times they were, such as in the first half.

It wasn't because the Spurs are better rebounders, although they crushed the Thunder front line on the board.

It wasn't because Tim Duncan is a better All-Star today than All-Star Kevin Durant is today, although when the moment was biggest, Duncan came though and Durant did not.

We can go right down the list until we reach the only real, true reason the Spurs won last night (and on 2/4 in similar fashion) - they just collectively understand basketball a little bit better than the Thunder. Whatever punch little brother throws, the big brother is already preparing not just to block it, but counterpunch it as well.


It may not surprise you to hear it, but I was not shocked that the Thunder came almost all the way back from a 27 point deficit. It would not have surprised me either if the roles were reversed. However, what separates the Spurs now from the Thunder now, lies in the Spurs' ability to recognize the few key moments of the game, the deciding moments of the game, and win those plays. A few that come to mind:

  • With the Spurs leading 94-90, All-Star MVP misses a wide open 3-pointer. The Spurs come back on the other end and Danny Green hits a 3-pointer.
  • The Thunder cut the deficit to two at 98-96, only to completely lose Danny Green again, giving up the open 3-pointer to push the lead back to five.
  • Down three at 101-98, the Thunder get three shots to either tie or pull to within one. Royal Ivey misses a three, Durant misses a three, and Westbrook misses a layup. Parker comes down on the other end, waits for the screen, and buries the jumper to push the lead back to five.
  • Down four with under a minute to play, Harden throws in a lazy in-bounds pass, and Danny Green steals it and ends up with the slam. Game over.
"How did I beat you?"

The Thunder need to say, "I know how you beat me. And now I will never let it happen again."

And then the Spurs will help the young kids off the mat, dust them off, and say, "Well then, let's try again, shall we?"