San Antonio, led by its mid-3 of LaMarcus Aldridge (26 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists), DeMar DeRozan (25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists), and Rudy Gay (17 points and 2 blocks), limited Denver’s bench to 11 points to secure the victory. Nikola Jokic’s Herculean effort (43 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists) and Jamal Murray’s contributions (16 points and 6 assists) were not enough for Denver, which fell to 0-7 in playoff game 6’s.
Game 6 Observations and Musings
- Jokic’s first two possessions were a missed shot and loose ball foul followed by a botched pass, yet he recovered to score six early points while Gary Harris continued his series-long shooting success. Aldridge and DeRozan spearheaded the team out of the gate with solid execution and steady pacing. DeRozan paired a floater with a set of nifty passes for a Jakob Poeltl push shot and an Aldridge corner three, while LaMarcus contributed with a pull up jumper, patented turnaround, and a pass leading to a Poeltl reverse. Rudy Gay asserted himself quickly with a pull-up in the lane. Denver started off 0 for 7 from three-point land, while the Spurs also went 0 for 2 from distance. The Spurs left the first quarter up 34-24 on 67% shooting after an Aldridge jam and a Patty Mills twisting layup.
- Denver’s bench YET AGAIN started the second stanza via a Torrey Craig three and a steal prompting a Pop timeout. Gay kept the Spurs ahead with some much-needed scoring and the aggressive Spurs got Denver into the penalty midway five minutes in. Aldridge and Poeltl met Malik Beasley at the rim for a block. Derrick White, in a maddening sequence, was called for a questionable blocking foul against Paul Millsap, shoved in the back by Jokic on a loose ball, and committed a senseless third foul on Murray. Poeltl immediately picked up his third foul and Harris gave Denver its first lead at 48-47. Gay’s two corner threes kept the Spurs close. A twisting Mills drive and an improbable ‘and-1’ by DeRozan - off a free throw make and a putback after his own miss - offset Murray’s hot shooting and the Spurs escaped the half up 64-60.
- Both teams came out missing often to start the third period. While DeRozan started things with three smooth pull-up jumpers and a knifing reverse layup, Murray pulled up lame after a Poeltl pick and hit a runner shortly after. White asserted himself by driving the lane at Jokic for free throws and blocking him at the other end. Jokic continued his one-man bullying of the Spur bigs. A fortunate bounce on a White three extended San Antonio’s lead to five. Though his teammates were not able to convert at the other end, Mills back-to-back steals on kept his team up five going into the fourth.
- To start the fourth, Gay connected on his third corner-3, and he tag-teamed with Poeltl for the team’s seventh block. A critical Marco Belinelli three pushed the Spurs to 96-85. San Antonio continued to execute well in the halfcourt - Gay fed Poeltl for a lay-in, White received a second lucky bounce on a jumper, and Bryn Forbes channeled his inner Klay Thompson on a straightaway three to put the Spurs up 105-87. Harris maintained his touch from the perimeter. DeRozan notched San Antonio it’s largest lead of the series with an accurate midrange touch. Murray fumbled the ball out of bounds for an unforced turnover - endemic of Denver’s second half.
- In a first half where the officials alternated between swallowing and using their whistles liberally, DeRozan was stripped on several drives that normally would have been called for fouls.
- Marco’s Crazy Leaners (MCL): 4 (the first one pushed the Spurs lead out to seven, his second one audaciously netted him three free throws, the next one missed off the rim late in the third, a White feed gave him his third make in four tries early in the final stanza)
- Denver ‘Second Chance’ Watch - 1) a miss that fell in between three Spurs resulted in a Paul Millsap putback in the first, 2) two Mason Plumlee rebounds resulted in a tip dunk and free throws cut the Spurs lead to four in the second, 3) later in the period, a pair of Jokic rebounds along with a tip-in extended more Denver possessions, 4) late in the third, Craig followed a leaping rebound with another tapout that led to a layup , 5) Jokic’s tip-in stemmed the tide on a fourth-quarter run. San Antonio made a concerted effort to limit second chance opportunities for Denver in the second half.
- Davis Bertans seems to have fallen out of the rotation.
- Looking ahead to future seasons, a quick-reacting Dejounte Murray on defense would be more helpful with slowing Jokic by digging and closing back out on shooters.
- RIP John Havlicek. With the announcement of the Celtic great’s passing in the third quarter, Kevin McHale suggested that the TNT broadcasters observe a moment of silence. For fans not familiar with him, Havlicek pioneered the very thing that our Manu Ginobili did and Lou Williams does - making monumental contributions off the bench.
- In honor of Tim Duncan’s 43rd birthday, the Spurs now have a 10-3 record on this supremely important date.
- Musical Homage in honor of Mark Barrington - Mike and the Mechanics ‘All I Need is a Miracle’
I hope you have set aside your entire Saturday evening for Game 7 with tipoff at 9 PM CDT!