Kevin Durant’s throwdown on Tim Duncan was the beginning of a long night for the Spurs and when the smoked-down Thunder fans finally put one in the win column. One down, three to go. (Tins, if you’re reading this, then it’s seven to go. Salute.)
The Oklahoma City Thunder did what many said they could not. The Thunder made adjustments, played with a renewed focus and fed off of Loud City to triumphantly win Game Three of the Western Conference Finals with a convincing 102-82 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs. I pleaded with Scott Brooks on The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show on Wednesday night to make adjustments and be much more savvy with his personnel on the bench. I’m not sure if he heard me, but it sure felt like it. His biggest move on the chessboard was the utilization of Thabo Sefolosha, and “Chef Sef” cooked all night. Words from Royce Young of the Daily Thunder:
There’s no doubt about it that Thabo was the player of the game with six steals, 79 deflections (estimated), one block, six rebounds and 19 points. And his defense was inspiring as he cut the head off the San Antonio snake by eliminating Parker’s midrange game completely while also keeping him from the rim. But more than that, the Thunder became themselves again. They played fast, smart and tough. They ran, they defended, they passed, they rebounded. They turned it over only seven times, they shot 45 percent from the floor. They got balanced scoring, but their best players also played well. It all rounded into a near perfect 48 minutes of basketball when the Thunder absolutely had to have it.
You would be hard pressed to argue that for seven of the 12 quarters that have been played in this series, the Thunder were the better team. If rounding were allowed in winning games, the Thunder would be ahead in the series, but, of course, we’re grown-ups and we know better. Ultimately, Oklahoma City’s 20-point win could’ve given the Thunder the mental boost needed to get them over the hump known as the Spurs. Moreover, this loss could’ve exposed that head coach Gregg Poppovich played his trump card early. Those extra passes and cuts to the rim and the corner three were nullified on Thursday, so what would be Pop’s next move? Play fast? Play physical? Doesn’t seem like the best of ideas, but maybe I’m not giving the tactical genius enough credit. We’ll soon find out on Saturday night during Game Four.
Here’s your pertinent reading material for Friday, enjoy the weekend.
Sneaker Files: Release Reminder – Nike Air Force 1 iD ‘Pioneer Leather’
National Post: Devils look for ways to deal with implacable Kings
Pro Football Talk: Philbin talks Hard Knocks
Los That Sports Blog: Kobe auctions opportunity to play him in H-O-R-S-E
Wall Street Journal: What to Do When You Catch a Homer
The Smoking Section: How The Worst Refereed Game In History* Changed Basketball Forever
Bomani Jones: On The One Thing LoLo Jones Needs To Do
FOX Deportes: The Thunder Can Still Win This Series