As I watched Bobo hit a three with 5:26 left in the third quarter, I knew the rest of the game was going to be difficult to get through.
It's not that I don't enjoy a good beat down of the Thunder. Trust me, it's one of my favorite things on Earth. When that Diaw three hit nylon, you could actually feel the sadness exuding from the Thunder bench. There was no way they were going to keep this game respectable. San Antonio was up 91-61 with almost a frame and half left to play, Mitch McGary was getting tons of minutes, and Tim Duncan had just hit a corner three. Combine that with the fact that Oklahoma City's banged-up defense looked Nickleback-bad and you have a perfect recipe for a 39-point Spurs' victory, the second-worst in Thunder history.
No, it was difficult to get through because I knew that as each minute ticked away, so did my confidence that we were beating a "playoff" team. I looked forward to this match up -- one against an MVP candidate -- as one that could possibly point me in the right direction of where this San Antonio team is right now. But with Kevin Durant shut down indefinitely, and now Serge Ibaka injured, OKC looks like a squad that would battle for a low seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Their defensive rotations were non-existent, as was their ability to find any offense outside of Enes Kanter and Russell Westbrook -- both of whom only showed up for a quarter and a half.
So what kind of team did San Antonio slaughter last night? Well, last night's loss dropped the Thunder to 5-11 against .500 or better teams when Westbrook takes the court without Durant. Now, I will sit back in awe of everything Russell does on the court and how he accumulates stats like Taylor Swift accumulates exes, but let's not claim that Westbrook's heroics are putting his team where they need to be. That Thunder team that the Spurs dismantled last night was a team in trouble, and will not survive this final playoff push if they continue down their current path.
What I wanted to get out of last night's match up was some clarity as to the mental status of San Antonio as April approaches. It seems like every time I think I have my thumb on the pulse of the team, they throw me for another loop. Is this the team that stumbles against the massively embarrassing Knicks at Madison Square Garden, or the team that soundly beats the impressive Hawks in the Fortress? Are they a squad that lets Monta Ellis go for 38 points, or a group that holds Westbrook to 5-of-16 from the field and a -30?
You can't answer those questions when the entire second half of the game is garbage time, but I believe I may have found some semblance of guidance on Wednesday night. Late in the game, with a Cojo-Patty-Bonner-Williams-Ayres lineup finishing up the game, the camera cut to a quick shot of Tony and Pop sharing a super laid-back conversation that looked to be about anything besides the game. The two didn't look jacked about the national beat down of the Thunder, nor did it look like they were talking X's and O's in order to shore up mistakes and carry the momentum over to the rematch against Dallas on Friday.
The conversation looked to be just that: a conversation. It was relaxed, both parties looked entertained but also had an even keel about them. And it reminded me that they're the freaking Spurs, which is something I need to remind myself about once a season. If they were doing anything else, -- scheming, discussing match ups, etc. -- I'd be worried that they were pressing, but a relaxed coaching staff and group of players who have the entire season in perspective is what is needed on a championship squad.
So whether or not beating the Thunder by an embarrassing amount says anything about "where their heads are at" heading into the last 11 games of the season, it's reassuring to know that Pop already has everyone forgetting about it and moving on to the next one.
That's something only championship-level teams are capable of doing.
Game MVP - Boris Diaw
In a game where everybody wearing a Spurs jersey seemed to get theirs and play a solid game, Diaw brought me the most happiness with how he got into the paint and attacked the rim. Too often this season he's been settling for mid-range jumpers or threes and they just haven't been falling. Last night, Boris -- who finished with 19 points on the night -- took defenders off the dribble into the interior and made things happen in the paint. Of course, the Thunder's interior was slightly weaker without Ibaka, but you love to see Bobo get some confidence back up by working his defenders into more efficient-shooting ranges.
Even before the game, Danny Green knew how the night was going to go for San Antonio.
Enes Kanter is like a reverse DeAndre Jordan. So good on one end, so limited on the other.— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) March 26, 2015
Splitter v. Kanter is secretly my favorite matchup tonight. Just two ungainly white dudes hitting each other in the head.— David McGinnis (@dav_mcg) March 26, 2015
The Kanter-Splitter matchup was an intriguing one for about a quarter before the entire game blew up.
Westbrook got feisty with Duncan after the last whistle. Duncan: "What the ---- was that?"— J.A. Adande (@jadande) March 26, 2015
I somehow missed this and am now going to need to go back and look for it.
Spurs right now: pic.twitter.com/i1D6yTU7D2— Jim Bob Breazeale (@jbbreazeale) March 26, 2015
Spurs back. Season over.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 26, 2015
For immediate release to 29 NBA teams: The Spurs have been activated. Thanks for your entry and good luck next year.— devin kharpertian (@uuords) March 26, 2015
Everyone is taking note of the familiar look in the Spurs' eyes, right about now.
@poundingtherock It's all good, friendo.— 48 Minutes of Hell (@48MoH) March 26, 2015
It's always nice to see some blog-on-blog love.
Meanwhile... the Cavs did work in Memphis
JVG compared Durant's injuries to Zayn leaving One Direction because of course he did.