TSF Tip-Off for 5/28/12 (featuring Newcleus): Spurs get nasty rally to top Thunder 101-98; Remembering Johnny Tapia

(Darren Abate/Associated Press)

Manu Ginobili broke through when the San Antonio Spurs needed it most. The veteran sixth man scored 26 points that included a 11-point fourth quarter (3-3 fg, 5-5 ft) as the Spurs rallied back to take Game 1 of the WCF from the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-98.

(Darren Abate/Associated Press)

Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook

With the Spurs trailing 62-71 after three quarters, coach Greg Popovich told his team prior to the start of the fourth quarter that he wanted some nasty in their game. The Spurs responded, drawing offensive fouls and playing with a sense of urgency – opening the door for a rally and their 19th consecutive victory.

The Thunder were hitting on all cylinders for about three quarters despite a rough shooting night for Russell Westbrook (7-21, 17 points) and James Harden (7-17, 19 points). Kevin Durant was solid, leading all scorers with 27 points and 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Thunder got a major surprise with the play of veteran Derek Fisher, the veteran guard finished 6-8 for 13 points. Tim Duncan was a force in the paint with 11 rebounds (4 offensive) and added 16 points. Reserve guard Gary Neal was a huge contributor off the Spurs bench with 12 points in 24 solid minutes.

Former five-time world champion Johnny Tapia was found dead yesterday in his home in Albuquerque, NM., Tapia was 45. Despite fighting personal issues fans rallied around Tapia (59-5-2) who became one of the sports most beloved fighters. Tapia was highly respected by his peers, so much to the point that Marco Antonio Barrera wore Tapia’s name on his trunks as a tribute. Authorities have stated that his death did not look suspicious.

The Lineup:

NFL Fantasy Football quarterback rankings (Fantasy Geek.com).

Coach Pop’s Nasty speech (SB Nation).

The SheilaEdrummer Daily (Paper li).

Report: Elton Brand  and Lou Williams want to remain in Philly (the last part of that quote is Brand to Michael Tillery)  (HoopsHype).

Ramon Sessions eyes return to the Lakers (Hoopsworld).

Two men set themselves on fire in Tibet (CNN).

Read up on Matt Forte’s messy money situation with the Chicago Bears (CBS Sports.com).

Today, take time to remember those that paid the ultimate price (myMotherLode.com).


Cookouts will be in abundance today, I’ll kick it off with this classic…



10 Responses to “TSF Tip-Off for 5/28/12 (featuring Newcleus): Spurs get nasty rally to top Thunder 101-98; Remembering Johnny Tapia”

  1. TheLastPoet says:

    I’ll say it again: I like how the Spurs play these days. Kenny Smith is right: defensively, they consistently take away their opponent’s first (and often second) scoring options, forcing opponents into confusion and poor execution. Westbrook’s pogo-stick pull-up jumper was negated last night, as were Harden’s drives to the basket, by funneling the attacking players into driving lanes that are then expertly clogged by help defenders who contest with length and proper positioning – not with hard fouls. Offensively, they aren’t much different than any other NBA team: screen rolls, screen pops, pin downs, etc. What separates them from the others is their talent at the most important positions (in any half-court offense) of point guard and center. Add a wing player who can improvise, plus their precision from years of playing together, plus excellent interior passing, and the offense is a joy to watch for a visual cat like me. The also get out on the break, they dunk, they shoot threes. I mean, what do they lack? (It also doesn’t hurt that thugs like Bowen and Horry – and, yes, Horry was reduced to cheap shots after his Big Shot Bob days had expired – no longeer play for them.)

    Having said all that, OKC has a good chance to win, not because their Xs and Os are better (they’re not), not because they’ve got a post game to trouble Duncan (they don’t), not because Brooks is a coaching genius (he isn’t, but Pop is), but rather because Durant, Westbrook, and Harden are as prepared for the Moment as are these Spurs. Like Kobe said, they’re friggin explosive. They won’t be intimidated and they’ve got the talent to match their resolve. I’ve always believed that the team with the best players usually wins. As good as Parker, Duncan, and Ginobli are, I believe Westbrook, Harden, and – especially – Durant are better. In fact, as I’ve said many times before, I prefer Durant’s game to Lebron’s and think he’s the best the league has to offer right now. I mean, people look at Lebron’s versatility and overwhelming physicality and presume that makes him the best. But I think the game is played best by people who are not necessarily the greatest athletes, but reather people who have a very high skill level, and to me, Durant is more skilled than Lebron, a lot more. I also think Durant is more competitive and has the greater will to win. And that means something..

  2. Temple3 says:

    I think this game would have been infinitely more interesting if Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefalosha weren’t on the bench for the 4th quarter. I got the feeling that Scott Brooks must have “been feeling hisself” a little bit after that 3rd quarter where SA scored only 16 points.

    The game plan for the Thunder is essentially the same as it for the Spurs: close out on shooters and funnel drives to the middle. The difference is that the Spurs commitment is to draw charges (5 in the 4th quarter — never seen that before) and the Thunder’s commitment is to block shots (11 — without Ibaka even playing in the 4th).

    I haven’t watched the Spurs much, but from what I’ve seen, they have 2 guys who can attack effectively off the dribble — but neither of them, for all their skill, are going to reliably score in the middle when Ibaka is lurking. Ginobili and Parker are the 2 guys that OKC did a decent job for most of the game. Manu hit that dagger 3 at the end of the first…great off-balance shot while fading to the corner. I can live with that.

    What I cannot abide is his uncontested forays into the middle. Collison is an excellent position defender…good enough to play on the Spurs, but they need a shot blocker on the floor when Ginobili is out there. Ibaka’s back line presence will allow the defenders to take another half-step up to defend his J — and not worry as much when he goes around the edge.

    If OKC can turn this into a mid-range jump shooting contest, I think they can win it because they have the length to bother those shots — especially if Perkins, Durant and Ibaka are on the floor at the same time. The challenge for OKC may be figuring out how to match with the smaller Spurs squad with Collison AND Ibaka.

    On Sunday, Thabo and Ibaka came out. Fisher and Collison played with Durant, Harden and either Fisher or Westbrook. OKC wound up with some ugly matchups where Harden was caught on either Bonner (no damage) or Tiago Splitter (lotta damage). When SA comes out with Manu, Neal, Parker, Bonner and Splitter or some other small combination, the Thunder should keep Ibaka on the floor against Splitter, allow Collison to cover Bonner, and then go from there. Ibaka had ZERO fouls in 22 minutes. He should never have a stat line like that in a game where his opponents score 50 points in the paint.

    I don’t think the Spurs have the vertical strength to win this series — I think the Thunder have the resilience to remain focused and bounce back. The challenge is with mental focus. OKC need to play over the top of San Antonio and continue to use their speed to their advantage.

    It’s all about the Block vs. the Charge.

  3. TheLastPoet says:


    Do you think Brooks is concerned at all about Ibaka’s low bball IQ? Ibaka is…what…22, 23 years old? And he’s made some mistakes in 4th quarter situations in the previous series against Dallas and especially Los Angeles. Perhaps Brooks believes that ither Perkins’ and Collison’s veteran experience are better matchups against the cerebral Spurs. I’m not saying I agree with Brooks sitting Ibaka, indeed I’m just as curious about his motives as you are.

  4. Temple3 says:

    I can see that concern, but in a game where Ibaka has not committed a foul, I think you have to have him on the floor. The Spurs lived at the FT line and they drew all those charges in the 4th. Harden went from “on the verge” to “over the edge” in a matter of seconds.

    During the game, I was talking to a friend about my mythical “Isiah-Dumars Line.” It’s about 8-12 feet away from the basket — and you approach it under control for the easy mid-range J. If you go inside of that range, you run the risk of drawing a charge, OR of being unable to finish because of the shot blockers. Zeke and Joe D seemed to ALWAYS pull up right in there and nail a tear drop, a bank shot, a floater, a running one-hander or some other kind of shot right over the outstretched hand of the defender. They did it to Boston, Chicago, LA and Portland.

    If Westbrook and Harden could make a few of those – even off that off-beat rhyme flow of Ginobili’s (start and stop and restart), they’d be good to go. When you use the glass, it’s the easiest shot in the game. Straight up — no lean…easy two. Westbrook can get close than 15 feet – but he doesn’t need to get all the way to the rim. He needs to take what they give him — and let Durant finish them off.

  5. Origin says:

    I still think this series goes 6 or 7 with the spurs winning. The problem is that the Thunder have no post game. Plus their best defender is a SG that barely plays and a PG that is required to run the offense because their star player is a 6-11 jump shooting SF and their big men have no post game.

    Westbrook or Harden have to do all the heavy lifting to get shots for Durant. Just like the smalls on Dallas do all the heavy lifting to get Dirk open shots. Except Durant does not have post game to help with their bigs who have no post game.

    In the first 2 series Westbrook had to play no defense and could focus on offense (he only had to play defense when guarding Terry the last 4 or 5 minutes of each game in the first round). Now Westbrook has to guard someone. It’s a pick your poison either guard Ginobili or guard Parker because Durant can’t guard either one so you can’t hide Westbrook and let him save his energy for the offensive end. As I have said many times on this site Westbrook is the key to that team as much as people want to give Durant the credit.

    Another thing is that Ibaka is a one trick pony. If he is not blocking shots he gives you nothing. He is a poor post defender that is why Collison plays. He cannot guard Duncan and he isn’t rotating on the pick and roll so he is basically useless. The team also lacks big men that come off the bench. It would have been smart to keep BJ Mullens instead of trading him.

    The spurs are picking and rolling these dudes to death because Duncan is setting the pick and Perkins is too slow to play the pick and roll. If Ibaka is guarding Duncan then the Spurs put him on the block and he eats his ass up. OKC never has had to play a team that runs the pick and roll this well in these playoffs.

    The Spurs best Big man runs the pick and roll well…..he can roll to the hoop and finish, he can shoot the jumper or he can pass to an open teammates as his gets the pass. OKC never had to worry about this vs. Dallas they have no Big Man like this. The Lakers have a big man like this but he hasn’t been the same since the World Championships 2 years ago. Add to this that the Ginobili and Parker are able to split the Pick and Roll when OKC blitzes. I mean who on the Mavs could do that….maybe Delonte a few times a game. Kobe could but at this stage of his career how many times can he do that? But Kobe was the only person on the Lakers who could do that. Even then the defenders were in his back pocket because the Lakers have horrible 3 point shooters so they couldn’t stretch the court and keep the defense honest.

  6. Origin says:

    Go ahead and que the media to start the trade Westbrook and he is killing the team. Not that the man on the bench called a coach can’t make adjustments.

    Westbrook still guarding Parker and Sefolosha is still guarding Green. OKC coach is as dumb as Spoelstra.

    But damn its great to see a real big man even one as old as Duncan. That why him (may be going on 5) and Shaq got 4 rings each.

  7. TheLastPoet says:

    Superb analysis from both O and T3, as usual.

    O, we can talk about the Durant v. Lebron debate another day! 🙂

  8. Temple3 says:

    @ Origin:

    The Thunder don’t need a “post game” to win this series. They need to get the ball to Durant and Harden on the move, rather than in stationary positions. The Pistons won 2 championships where the only post player (Aguirre) was also a perimeter player, but the 3rd or 4th scoring option on the team. They won with 3 guards who made pull up jumpers with lethal regularity, who didn’t give up charges, and who didn’t over-penetrate. Neither Laimbeer, Buddha Edwards, Salley, nor Rodman was a legit threat to score on the block in classic fashion.

    Dallas won last year without a classic post player. Dirk got catches to start the offense all over the court — some low, most not so low because he doesn’t have the lower body strength to hold a spot for stationary catches. Durant has even less of that.

    Even the 2nd manifestation of the Pistons won with their best post player taking lots of jumpers (miss ‘Sheed’s game, though).

    OKC can get the ball to Durant and Harden on the move, but Russell Westbrook has to actually move the ball. He tends to love for his own offense FIRST, then after a few set-up dribbles, he’ll opt to run an offensive play that requires Durant to post-up somewhere and call for the ball. Durant doesn’t even know how to post up yet — he doesn’t use his frame and drop his bottom to create space for entry passes.

    RW just needs to come down the court, have KD or JH run off a couple of curl screens and hit them on the move. Both of them can elevate over the Spurs in the lane. SA has one shot blocker. All OKC needs to do is force Duncan to move up and down the lane to defend the high post. That’s really it.

    And Thabo needs to guard the penetrating point (whether it’s Manu or TP for more than 15 minutes per game). Let Serge defend the P/R with Thabo and ride the wave!!!!


  9. Temple3 says:

    Duncan is shooting a whopping 8-26 in this series — and they’re still up 2-0.

  10. TheLastPoet says:

    I feel your pain, T3. Hate to see the youngins get done in by their own coach, but as you’ve keenly noted above and elsewhere, Brooks is not putting them in a position to be successful, and it’s in a series like this one against a veteran team who knows EXACTLY what to do where such flaws are fatally exposed (otherwise, their superior talent, which has carried them thus far, would win out).