Spurs Paddle Thunder, from Dean Nazaru McCray’s Viewpoint
I have always said without hesitation that I would take one grisly old veteran over a couple of youthful studs any given day when it comes to NBA playoff basketball. There is just something about the experience factor in the playoffs that cannot be overcome by youthful speed, strength, endurance or exuberance. This fact was never more apparent last night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio Texas when the San Antonio Spurs overcame a nine point deficit at the end of the 3rd quarter to discipline the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder 101 – 98 and take a 1-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference Finals.
Led by Manu Ginobili’s 26 points, the ever consistent future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan’s 16 points and 11 rebounds, 18 sneaky points by Tony Parker and the incomparable leadership of the NBA’s Coach of the Year Greg Popovich, the Spurs won a record tying 19th game in a row in the playoffs and defeated the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder for the 9th time in the last 10 games in which they have competed.
Despite a herculean effort on the part of league MVP candidate Kevin Durant who poured in 27 hard earned points in the losing effort, when the game’s outcome came down to the sheer will to win in the 4th quarter, the wily old veterans of San Antonio put their playoff experience on display and sent a clear message to all in observance that they are still a force to be reckoned with in their quest for a 5th NBA championship.
Scoring 39 points in the 4th quarter after being chastised by the 63 year old Greg Popovich to get “nasty”, the Spurs turned up their defensive intensity, got physical with the upstart Thunder and put the game away down the stretch by shooting a smoking 75 percent from the floor. Dazed and seemingly confused, the Thunder had no answer for the veteran Spurs onslaught eventually fading down the stretch and in the process failing to obtain an all important playoff win on the road.
Unfortunately, history does not bode well for the Oklahoma City Thunder going forward being that the team that has won the initial game of a best of seven NBA playoff series has gone on to win 78 percent of the time. Perhaps the youthful Thunder can muster up a victory or two in this series and make it competitive but their chances of advancing to the NBA Finals seem bleak at best. Good luck next year Oklahoma City Thunder but I just don’t see you overcoming such an arduous task as defeating a playoff hardened, veteran team such as the San Antonio Spurs.
By: Dean Nazaru McCray, Sports Editor
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