Found June 01, 2012 on NBA 24/7 365:
08

Fifty days it had been since San Antonio last tasted defeat… back when the since-eliminated Lakers got 30 rebounds from Andrew Bynum and 26 points from Metta World Peace.  That almost seems like a season ago, and I think the fact that the Spurs promptly bounced back and took care of the Lakers by a 24-point margin makes it feel as though the streak lasted even longer.

If you don’t recall, the Spurs looked so incredibly mechanical (in a good way) and dominant in that April 20th revenge game that, although it was just another regular-season contest, it put to rest any doubt in my mind that this team wasn’t/isn’t as real a deal as any championship Spurs squad from the past.  Up until last night, all they’d done since then is win 14 consecutive games, and most of them by double figures.

So, how were the Oklahoma City Thunder able to solve the NBA’s Rubik’s Cube?  And how were they able to do it so quickly, figuratively speaking?   Well, I feel like it all started with the defense of Thabo Sefolosha.

I don’t want to be one of those knee-jerk-reacting sensationalists, so before this begins to look like an article from the front page of Yahoo! let me just say that I honestly believe this defeat had a lot to do with the San Antonio Spurs.  I thought Kenny Smith made a solid point on Inside The NBA when he said something along the lines of “true desperation can’t be duplicated.”

It’s true.  Oklahoma City absolutely needed to win game three—their season was riding on it, really—while San Antonio required only two of the next five, if the series is to go that long (doubtful).  As down to earth a team as the veteran Spurs are, not even they can unlearn how damn dominant they’ve been over the past couple of months.  I’m not even saying they weren’t focused… it’s just that they weren’t able to capture that gutsy, defiant attitude which comes with returning home for a must-win contest.  Remember, no team has ever come back from 0-3.  It truly was a must-win situation for Oklahoma City.

Attitudinally-disadvantaged or not, the Spurs are still an awfully good basketball team (one hell of an understatement indeed).  The determined young guns from Brick Town had to do more than a few things quite well to spark a series of events that resulted in 21 San Antonio turnovers and 44 points in the paint.  Like I said, I feel that it all started with Thabo Sefolosha; the defense he played on Tony Parker, particularly.

Excluding Chris Paul, who is of otherworldly descent, Tony Parker led all point guards of his caliber in ball security for the ’11/12 season.  While Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and Kyrie Irving (see how I threw him in there?) all turned the ball over better than three times per game, Parker coughed it up only 2.6 times.  Like the aforementioned Paul, Parker has always been a master of the ability to go wherever it is he pleases.  He’s been a leader in paint points for the past… however many years, and at 6’2″ that speaks volumes about his agility and control.

Last night, however, Parker turned the ball over five times whilst attempting just two field goals in that obnoxiously-blue rectangle.  OKC’s decision to switch a lot of pick and rolls helped to keep him from turning the corner, but Sefolosha’s combination of length and lateral movement was definitely the key to a stellar defensive effort.  Thanks in large part to his individual doggedness, Parker was kept outside of the lane and forced to attempt some awkward passes out of pressure situations.  For these new-fangled, outside-in Spurs, Parker’s individual struggles brought about a sort of trickle-down effect.

Due to Parker’s befuddlement, the Spurs drifted away from their game.  The post, aka Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, and Tiago Splitter, did not respond to the sudden change of plans and combined to finish 5-17 from the floor.  As a team, San Antonio shot just 39.5%.  Thanks to the surprising abundance of San Antonio bricks (along with those 21 giveaways) the enthusiastic Thunder didn’t have to begin all their possessions by taking the ball out of the peach basket.  That resulted in plays like this, and then this.

The dominoes didn’t stop falling there.  Electrifying plays such as those build confidence, and a little confidence can go a long way for a young team like the Thunder.  On this particular evening they turned it into a 22-point victory over a team that hadn’t lost since you filed your tax return.  Individually, Sefolosha flipped it into the biggest offensive night of his playoff career.  When he wasn’t busy racking up six steals he was working on his 19 points.  It took him 16 shots, but hey, the shots will be there when you force all those turnovers.  Hell, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant failed to connect on more than half of their opportunities, but they got so many (88-66 FGAs in favor of OKC) it didn’t even matter.

And that, my friends, is how Thabo Sefolosha’s name ends up headlining a Western Conference Finals victory.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Thabo Sefolosha, Thunder Steal Game 2 From Spurs

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The streak is over. The series may only be beginning. Kevin Durant scored 22 points, Thabo Sefolosha set playoff career-bests with 19 points and six steals, and the Oklahoma City Thunder snapped San Antonio's 20-game winning streak by beating the Spurs 102-82 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday night. Oklahoma City closed its series deficit...

Kevin Durant offering tickets to Lil’ Wayne after Game 3 denial

Kevin Durant is offering his personal tickets to Lil’ Wayne so the rapper can attend Thunder playoff games after being denied by the team for Game 3. Weezy caused a stir on Thursday when he tweeted that the Thunder denied him tickets to Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. The Thunder confirmed that Lil’ Wayne’s reps reached out to the team requesting courtside seats...

Spurs reportedly were shopping Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili last offseason

The Spurs are just two wins away from their fifth trip to the NBA Finals, but this almost wasn’t this case, as the team reportedly considered making big moves last summer that would have altered the franchise’s future. Acccording to the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey, Spurs brass was willing to part ways with stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in an effort to get younger and...

Here’s hoping this “James Harden Beard Forecast” is 100% accurate

I pity the fool who doesn’t want this to come true. According to this “James Harden Beard Forecast” comic strip the Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard should morph nicely into Mr. T in the not-too-distant future.  Which, judging by Harden’s current look, seems just about right. [Reddit]

Fundamental Dynasty: The San Antonio Spurs and the Moneyball theory

Most people believe that the “Moneyball” theory cannot work in the NBA because of the high maintenance of stars, individual talent and sometimes lack of a team concept. However, what professional sports prove time and time again is that sometimes reasons for team successes are overlooked. The “Moneyball” theory is a term conceptualized by Oakland A’s general manager Billy [...]

Kareem a class act, congratulates Duncan

In last night's San Antonio Spurs-Oklahoma City Thunder Game 3, Tim Duncan made NBA history by becoming the All-Time NBA playoff block shots leader surpassing the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Click HERE to see the video of Duncan's milestone but the man he passed, Jabbar, took to Twitter to congratulate TD on taking first place. Tim Duncan has been the epitome of steadiness...

Thunder respond with confidence in must-win

OKLAHOMA CITY Now everyone can just exhale a bit. Probably should at this point. Just sit back. Take it easy. Don't forget, this is the same Oklahoma City team that swept past Dallas in the first round of the playoffs and then knocked out the Lakers right after. They just hadn't shown it yet. Thursday, the Thunder did, shaking free from a two-game funk where they lost...

Western Conference Finals Game 3 Postgame style wars: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook & Tony Parker

    The Thunder bounced back to beat the Spurs on Thursday night 102-82. But we’re here to discuss the post game looks. But this time, we’re throwing Tony Parker in the mix. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook took the podium as a tandem as they’ve been doing in previous rounds. KD rocking a preppy [...]

Will we see more 'Hack-a-Splitter'?

In Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich got a little bit of his own medicine when Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks decided to intentionally foul Tiago Splitter, just like the Spurs did to DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Evans in the second round against the Clippers. It wasn’t nearly as effective because Splitter made...

Dancers Of The NBA Playoffs: Spurs’ Mandy Is A Kardashian Fan

The Spurs’ ridiculous winning streak finally ended last night in a butt-whoopin’ at the hands of the OKC Thunder. But take solace, Spurs fans, because Busted Coverage is here to take your mind off that game and put it squarely on one of the hotties ready to shake it for you when the series heads back down south Monday night. Mandy is a Silver Dancers veteran, so she knows how...

Starting 5: The Spurs lost? & Duncan makes history

Every morning, we'll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day. 1: The Spurs...... lose? This has to be some kind of special effect, right? That was Hollywood CGI that made the Thunder fly all over the court and make more baskets than the Spurs, wasn't it? After a 20 game winning streak and no losses since April 9, it's hard to believe...

Oklahoma City Thunder – San Antonio Spurs Game 3 Prediction

The San Antonio Spurs have now won 20 consecutive games. They blew past the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, winning by an average of 18 points. They were just as effective in round 2 against the LA Clippers, when every game other than the closeout game was a double digit win. Included in that run was game 3 against LA in which the Spurs were down 24 at one point, but...

Scouting WCF Game 4: Spurs must limit turnovers

After 20 consecutive games, the San Antonio Spurs were handed their first loss at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday evening. Though the Thunder won by 20-points on Thursday, the game had already been decided midway through the third quarter, which meant the Spurs players had time to begin thinking about game four. The Spurs will need to bounce back tonight or they...

Spurs' 20-game win streak snapped in 102-82 loss

After a month and a half of dominance, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich suddenly had a reason to question his team's passion and desire. Kevin Durant scored 22 points, Thabo Sefolosha set playoff career-bests with 19 points and six steals, and the Oklahoma City Thunder snapped San Antonio's 20-game winning streak with a 102-82 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.