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Spurs formula nearly set

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The Spurs won the second "rematch" against their vanquished 2014 NBA Finals foes. Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan looked up to the task, but the team can still tweak the formula in the next two weeks.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs title defense has been ongoing for 290 days. There are 17 days and seven opponents (the Rockets twice) before the 2015 NBA Playoffs begin. The Spurs need one win to ensure they are among the 16 teams (...or the West plus the Hawks & Cavaliers) vying to wear the crown of NBA Champions.

The Spurs last played the Heat on February 6th, their 50th game of the season and the last game before the Rodeo Road Trip. That was the initial rematch of the NBA Finals, and true to form, the Spurs won soundly. Kawhi Leonard, in his 10th game back from injury, had a ridiculous box score plus/minus of +26 (still his fourth best of the season).

This glimpse at "Finals MVP Kawhi" would be fleeting--as the entire team struggled through the first seven games of the RRT--but would portend this incredible tear he has been on. Leonard has basically been playing at that MVP-caliber clip for the past 17 games. THIS team, with THIS Kawhi is starting to make Spurs fans giddy. Oh sure, we're playing it cool and modest on the surface: "Yeah, we are lucky to even make the playoffs in this brutal Western Conference. It really could be anyone's year..."

But inside, it's clearly more like "AHHHHH!!!! WE CAN DO IT, THAT REPEATING THING PHIL AND PAT ALWAYS YAMMER ON ABOUT!! EVEN, ODD, WHO CARES?!?"

The Spurs have won 14 out of their past 17 games and dominated about 66 out their last 70 quarters (save for two quarters against each of the Cavs, Mavs, and...Knicks). Leonard's stat line during that stretch? 19.4 points on 53% shooting, 7.5 boards, 2.7 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 2.6 steals, 1.1 blocks and at least a Defensive Player of the Year nomination.

And while the Spurs finished tonight with a very similar box score to that last "Finals rematch" against the Heat:

  • Kawhi 8-for-13 (vs. 8-for-15), 22/9/3/4/2 (24/4/4/3/0)
  • Tony 7-for-12 (vs. 9-for-12), 16/5 assists/4 turnovers (21/4 assists/3 turnovers)
  • Tim Duncan 5-for-10 (vs. 5-for-8), 12/11/3 blocks (10/12/0)

this one didn't feel quite as satisfying. Though the Spurs shot 50% from the field and 44% from deep and held the Heat to 40.5% and 33.3% shooting, they were not quite as dominant as in the three game home stretch preceding it. The 19 turnovers is not a recipe for lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, (approximately) 365 days after the last time.

Quote of the Night

"Kawhi Leonard, I don't even know what he sounds like."

- Dwayne Wade, 2013 NBA Finals (from Dan McCarney)

Game MVP

Mr. Leonard. See above. And this:


Mr. Whiteside

Oh, you know. Just a tune about Hassan Whiteside set to the Killers' "Mr. Brightside." (Compare the lyrics here)

Coming out of nowhere

Danny Green-like D-League find

Gotta, gotta rebound

Because he wants ‘em all

It started around Christmas

How did it end up like this:

Seen his per 36, seen his per 36???

Now here’s Bob Cousy

Comparing him to Russell

How does 42 games

Rate against 11 rings?

Though he was really good

Playing with 10 stitches

And scoring 10 points

He made Boris his...chien

Now, that’s French for dog

Now, I’d better go.

He’s just trying to get his 2K…

Rating under control

Jealousy, hidden gems: a Spurs thing

Rejecting all of our guys

Stuffing Diaw’s French Fries

Wondering what's the price we'd pay

Would we want him anyway?

Open up Buford’s eyes

'Cause he's Mr. Whiteside!


BTW, if his 42 games were enough to qualify, Hassan Whiteside would be:

  • 1st in Total Rebounding % (26.2% compared to DeAndre Jordan's league-leading 24.4%)
  • 1st in Block percentage (9.4% compared to Rudy Gobert's league-leading 7.2%).
  • Tied for 5th with Russell Westbrook in Win Shares/48 (.227)

Odds and Ends

  • As I was trying to write this after the game, I left TNT playing in the background, which led to (at times lengthy) writing intermissions to watch Steph and CP go at it. At half, a stat flashed across the screen revealing that the Warriors are 7-9 when down at half, which means they’ve lost only 4 games in which they weren’t down at the half. Small sample size either way, but it seems that the way to beat the Warriors with an enormous success rate of nearly 13% is to get up on them early. #hope?
  • What an odd 2nd half of runs. After Miami cut the lead to 51-50 in the third, the Spurs went on a 32-12 run to go up big. They then got complacent, and the Heat answered with a 13-2 run to make it a 10 point game, forcing the starters to return for a spell to see out the game.
  • I guess Manu got a big head from reading PtR and the glowing praise lavished on him. Not a great night for the Argentine with 5 turnovers and only one assist. The bright side may be that he helped ensure Cory Joseph played 23 minutes.

Numbers Game

1000. Games for Tony Parker. And that doens't even count the playoffs. They grow up so fast.

54. Seconds that The Spurs trailed against the Heat (end of the 1st quarter).

4. Consecutive games in double-figures for Boris (Spurs are 18-7 when this happens, and Diaw has done it in 6 of his last 8). #HibernationOver

18. Consecutive games in double-figures for Kawhi.

19. Consecutive games with a steal for Kawhi.

17. Consecutive games with double digit leads.

25. The Spurs clinching the playoffs with a win will be their 25th trip in 26 years (which sent Matt Moore into total meltdown. Check the @HPbasketball timeline from last night)

2. Wins needed to reach 50 for the 16th consecutive season.

Dear Internet,

This is one of the best tweets I've ever seen:

The Spurs were GIF hall-of-fame worthy:

This was just...man...I mean:

The Hawks social media team is legendary:

St. John's!!!

What a great story in two tweets:

And: