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Spurs weather Thunderstorm

Weather you like it or not, ice suppose that was a hail of a game, when it should've been a breeze.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

[Editor's Note: On Tuesday night, as the Spurs were struggling to get past an undermanned Thunder team, the San Antonio area was hit by a serious storm. It was so extreme that it provoked an unrestrained torrent of puns in this rehash. You have been warned. -jrw]

On a night of meteorological significance, plain ol’ logic eventually prevailed…though just barely. Without their trio of stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, the Spurs should've barely broken a drizzle of sweat against the Thunder's supporting cast.

But with chunks of ice falling from the San Antonio sky outside of the AT&T Center, the Spurs did their best to match it on the court. It seemed that Zeus himself was presiding over the game as one thunderbolt after another fell on San Antonio, putting the Spurs down by as many as 18 points. The fact that Spurs faced their largest deficit of the season against this squad might have had fans wanting a rain-check for the first half, but the Thunder's next-men-up were impressive. Bigs Enes Kanter and Steven Adams absolutely destroyed the Spurs on the glass.

~~Rain Delay~~

Now before we get any further into this game or any deeper into a bad-pun-athon, let's take a brief rain delay to re-examine the Spurs dance gif that is the best thing since Spuran Spuran (almost exactly a year ago).

If that doesn't confirm just how important Boris Diaw is to the performance of this team, you and I don't understand the world the same way. I have watched this no less than 150 times and I find something new every time. Please dissect the finer points, and offer analysis in the comments.


The Thunder started off making it rain from behind the arc, dropping five of their first eight. Thankfully for the Spurs, they were frozen out, hitting only one of their next 17! One thing that never changed was the rebounding woes, specifically allowing the Thunder 18 offensive rebounds. You can be sure that this will be an important issue if these two teams meet in the playoffs, even with a fully available LaMarcus Aldridge and Boris Diaw. The Spurs were able to match the Thunder with 87 field goal attempts, and even managed seven more free throws than the visitors. This was almost exclusively thanks to the turnover margin falling 11-to-21 in the Spurs favor.

It was a stormy performance, one that the Spurs will want to forget heading into the playoffs, but it still allowed the Spurs to finish the regular season 40-1 at home which is surely some kind of pot at the end of the rainbow.

Let's hope that this late season offensive smog will clear and prove to be the calm before the playoff storm of beautiful, efficient basketball that propels them to postseason history.

Quote of the Night

"I can't believe you guys are resting players. It's bull****"

- Popovich (on the audacity of the Thunder resting their stars)

Game MVP

I don't care about Kawhi's overtime or Tony Parker's clutch plays that seemed straight out of a late-2000s highlight reel. This was Boban's game. Boban--who is literally the best thing on the planet--gets the benefit of being possibly the most beloved Spur of the Moment, even when he's not doing much during meaningful minutes.

That was not the case on Tuesday; these were incredibly meaningful ones, as reflected by his game leading +/- of 13 in a four point win. He played during a vital 15 minute stretch that ultimately made this a winnable game. Entering at 5:28 in the 3rd with the Spurs trailing 59-66, Boban left the floor with a lead of 92-88 and just under three minutes left to play...the Spurs would only manage to score one more point in regulation. His 8 rebounds were absolutely crucial, and his size genuinely made the difference with Aldridge dealing with soreness in his injured finger and Boris resting. I think he made the case for not only being a viable part of the playoff rotation, but for having the most Spursy quality of all: basketball IQ. He made many plays that seemed to show wisdom and an innate understanding.

He also had the highlight of the game ruined when David West missed the dunk that was freed by Boban's Magic-esque no-look bounce pass behind his back. That surely must be floating somewhere around the internet (please post in the comments). How do you stop a guy like that?


Numbers Game

1392 - Tim Duncan passed Jason Kidd for 7th all-time in Regular Season games played. Of course Duncan is already third in playoff games played and fifth  in total games played (vaulting Kevin Willis and Kevin Garnett on that list). If he were to play one more season he would probably finish 5th in Regular Season games, 1st/2nd in playoff games, and 3rd in total.

388 - Quarters since the Spurs last played overtime basketball in the regular season (which many of you may remember as that silly OT loss to the Knicks that ultimately cost the Spurs crucial seeding).

15% - Dion Waiters and Cameron Payne combined to shoot 2-for-13 on 3-point field goals

1 - Overtime games played this season. If they can avoid a second, it will mark the second time in franchise history only playing in one overtime game (1980-81 season).

Weather-Tempered Hot Takes

  • In the month of April, Kawhi Leonard hasn't been phenomenal, but he has been solid. Admittedly a small sample size of only five games (he sat out the last game against the Nuggets and will sit Wednesday against the Mavs), per game he is: playing over 5 minutes more, attempting almost 2 FGs more, shooting nearly 20% worse from distance, getting to the line for 4 more free throws, averaging 1.2 more assists, and scoring nearly 3 points more.
  • Kawhi April Numbers

  • Kawhi shot 2-for-7 in the 4th quarter, including the errant buzzer beating effort to force the game to overtime (unable to redeem a la Utah last week). He did however look clutch in overtime, going 3-for-3 and scoring 6 of the Spurs 9 points.
  • Some people were calling this the "Waiters Game," and I'm sure there will be at least one playoff game that is turned with his offense off the bench, but Dion Waiters was doing his best Durant/Westbrook impression, and presumably, loving it. He gleefully took 22 shots and Hero Ball iso-ed on the final possession before taking a step-back, fade-away, mid-range effort with 18 seconds left in overtime. If he is taking 22 shots in the post-season with a fully equipped Thunder team...that is GREAT for the Spurs.
  • (Waiters even got a Durant/Westbrook call on what seemed to be a 3 dribble continuation from the top of the key to even send the game to overtime!)
  • The bigs of the Thunder with Kanter, Collison, Adams (and adding Ibaka back into the mix) could be an issue for the Spurs. The Thunder are the best rebounding team in the league and are especially effective on the offensive glass. The Spurs need to exploit Kanter's less-than-stellar defense if the Thunder are going to trot out two bigs. This is where David West or Boris Diaw's combination of strength and craftiness will be crucial.
  • Sure Tony Parker matched up with first-career-start rookie Cameron Payne (though he was often guarded by the underrated and rangy Andre Roberson), but he had a few turn-back-the clock offerings. Spin cycles, quick penetrations that went straight to the rim, and something of a mid-range rhythm in the second half were maybe the most promising of individual signs heading into the playoffs.
  • Without their two best facilitators, the Spurs 2nd unit was a little lost at times. With guards Patty Mills and Kevin Martin running the show, a somewhat passive Kyle Anderson night (4 FGAs, no assists), and a no space big man duo of Boban and West, you could see how desperately needed Boris Diaw and Manu Ginobili were. It also made Tony Parker's penetration stand out even more on the night.
  • There have been those surmising that Tim Duncan may never play another regular season game (he'll rest after 34 minutes). I hope those people all got hit in the head by golf ball sized hail. Though Duncan was knocked to the floor a few too many times and couldn't get the calls befitting of a legend departing (see Victory Tour, Kobe Bryant), he popped right back up and was an anchor in the middle of the Spurs defense. He'll be back (...I pray).
  • Twitter

    Let's start with more Boris. What a man.

    Horry is colder than hail on this one.

    Speaking of hail, this is so Pura San Antonio

    So is this...

    All the hits.

    This would be beautiful.

    Pop making Gulag jokes as only Pop can:

    Meanwhile in the rest of the league:

    #MambaDay #AdorablePsychopath

    We'll close with one more. Do yourself a favor and watch that gif of Boris dancing 100 more times too!