I normally wouldn't ascribe karma or anything like it to a basketball team, but I always felt like there was some sort of Universal give-and-take when it came to the success of the Spurs and even individuals within the organization. Take Bruce Bowen. In the Universe's system of meting out justice, maybe the only way for Bruce to be such an, ahem, effective defender is for him to pay for it with something else, like never winning Defensive Player of the Year.
For the team as a whole, it's become glaringly obvious over the years that they don't/can't/won't repeat as Champions. The reasons are manifold and complex, but if you assume that a team who wins five 'chips should repeat at least once - even, I don't know, accidentally or something - you've got to wonder if there's a higher power at work. I'm not talking about Chris "PointGod" Paul, Creator of All Contact, with whose hindquarters no man shall collide and live, and whose son hath appeared at many press conferences; I'm talking about whatever minor deity, likely appointed by David Stern, which granted the Spurs two #1 draft picks at precisely the right time in history, and which now is withholding repeat championships as the other end of whatever twisted Faustian Bargain Red McCombs got us involved in back in the late 80s. Point being, if the Spurs must endure failed repeat bids in exchange for two decades of winning seasons and perpetual title contention, then I'm looking for the dotted line too.
Joking aside, what can you say about Chris Paul?
The Clippers made a lot of incredible shots not just in Game 7 but throughout the entire series. I had thought the Dallas series in 2006 or the Miami series in 2013 was the closest series I'd ever seen, but this one may actually take the cake. Game 7 alone had 31 lead changes. For the entire series, it must have been at least triple that. If you take away Games 1 and 3, the total margin of victory was 25 points. Total. And that underscores just what a back-and-forth affair almost all of those games were. It was the kind of series where road teams go 3-4, with games that turn on Austin Rivers shooting 90% for ten minutes, or multiple offensive basket interference calls, or a missed travelling violation, or a called travelling violation that might not have been.
Six teams had a higher offensive rating than the Spurs this year. The Clippers were one of them. Two teams had a better point differential than the Spurs this year. The Clippers were one of them. They also had homecourt advantage for Game 7, and one of only three active coaches to win an NBA title other than Pop. The Spurs had a +2.3 net rating in the series and still lost. Regular season included, the Clippers won 6 games to the Spurs' 5. The Spurs were an unstoppable force that just happened to meet a slightly more immovable object.
It was a great series. I wish it had been the Conference Finals, or the actual Finals, so that even if the Spurs had to have lost (see karma section above) we might have at least maximized our enjoyment of Spurs basketball. With the injuries and the fits and starts and general post-2014 title hangover, Lord knows we didn't get enough genuine Spurs ball this year. Alas, seeding sucks, while the teams in the Western Conference do not suck, so either us or the Clips had to go home early. Normally a first round exit for the Spurs would be an organizational crisis, but I have a feeling that in a decade or so, casual observers to this series will struggle to remember that it wasn't a Conference Finals or at least a semifinals. Maybe in forty years, I will too.
I want Danny Green to come back. I don't care that for 60% of this series he was Icy/(this space intentionally left blank). He's at worst 8/10ths the on-ball defender that Kawhi is, and he's a historically good shot blocker at the guard position. His abilities also have a multiplier effect, because when Kawhi is having to carry the offense, he's not the same tireless defender. Danny allows us to vary our coverages, and when he's on fire the lane opens up and the Spurs are just about impossible to stop. Verde has grown up in our system, and since he's presumably more valuable to us than he is to whatever other team will pay him slightly more to play the wrong role in a different system, I'm hopeful, nay, confident he and the Spurs can work out a deal this summer.
Seconds after it ended, I turned to my wife, shook my head and said, "They (the Spurs) could very well win the Championship again next year, and we don't necessary need LaMarcus Aldridge to do it."
So maybe I'm still a little starry eyed over last year's run, but that's amazing. And that's why I'm not even mad.
Finally: the Spurs won 2 games against the Warriors this year. The rest of the Western Conference playoff field combined for 2 wins against the Warriors this year. I think maybe folks in Oakland rested a little easier last night.
According to Twitter
when u finally beat your dad in 1 on 1 one and he say im proud of u boy pic.twitter.com/TCyW3sgg7e— Young Black Jesus (@zekNcashe) May 3, 2015
For the first time in Kawhi's career, the Spurs will not reach the Western Conference Finals.— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) May 3, 2015
Pop on what's next for him, Duncan and Ginobli: "We'll probably come back. Paycheck's pretty good."— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 3, 2015
The final score for the 7-game series was Spurs 724, Clippers 721...— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 3, 2015
Spurs lost their shot at a title in large part because they lost a regular season game to the Pelicans— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) May 3, 2015
Spurs murdering the glass with DeAndre on the bench. Unless I've blacked out, which is possible.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 3, 2015
DANNY GREEN HAS 5 BLOCKS IN THIS GAME CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT?— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) May 3, 2015
@talkhoops this game got me pregnant— Brett Sinclair (@brettmsinclair) May 3, 2015
Kawhi fell down under the basket, then got all the way back for the defensive rebound. THIS GAME.— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) May 3, 2015
Spurs are about to put this away. Green’s got it going, Tony’s got it going, Duncan’s got it going, Manu’s doing… what he does.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 3, 2015
Brayden's stats for Game 7: - 7 heart attacks - 12 losses of breath - 7 times covering eyes - 43 prayers— Brayden Neubauer (@Braydenominator) May 3, 2015
This series should be bronzed.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 3, 2015
the winner of this series should get a very very small replica larry obrien trophy— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) May 3, 2015
Chris Paul, quite obviously dealing with some pain. pic.twitter.com/CYd4Lh7cgH— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) May 3, 2015
Webber just called Danny Green 'the bow-legged assassin' and people want to tell me Webber isn't great on TV? That case is now closed— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) May 3, 2015
The older Duncan gets the more impossible shots he makes. Which makes you realize how good he was at making everything look easy before.— Bethlehem Shoals (@freedarko) May 3, 2015
Tim Duncan joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to score in double figures in a Game 7 at age 39 or older (via @eliassports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 3, 2015
Boris Meow. https://t.co/GPJhjm6VzN— Jesse Blanchard (@blanchardJRB) May 3, 2015
That description of Chris Paul would make an amazing epitaph: "in some degree of agony, he maneuvered so well."— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) May 3, 2015
Nope. PETA too big in LA & no virgins in LA https://t.co/wFfHSaZsdI— joyce townsend (@TownsendJoyce) May 3, 2015
Danny Green says NO to Blake Griffin https://t.co/dKDF7Y1oyC— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) May 3, 2015
There have been three and-1 chances in this game, two from Spurs and one from Jordan. Guess who made his free throw?— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) May 3, 2015
Clippers going on seven minutes w/out Paul, more than holding their own.— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneySAEN) May 3, 2015