The NBA Playoffs: The Spurs are Still Undefeated

Manu Ginobili caught fire in Game 1 as he erupted for 26
points including 11 in the 4th quarter to defeat the Thunder
(Photo by Getty Images)

#run&gun #WildWest
The scoring and exciting playoff basketball was on display in the Western Finals. The Thunder and the Spurs took jabs at each other before Manu Ginobili delivered the knockout punch. The pace was fast, sometimes too fast as the teams combined for 30 turnovers. The Spurs showed some rust early with a bunch of miscues and bad shots while the Thunder were probably jittery and maybe too excited as they missed layups and a couple of dunks. Still, the Thunder were leading by 9 going into the fourth quarter. I guess that's where the Spurs wanted them as they took over in the last period to outscore the young Thunder 39-27 and escape with the Game 1 win. The old, nasty veterans took over with Stephen Jackson and Manu Ginobili leading the attack.

#undefeated #nasty
The Spurs were downright nasty in notching their 9th straight win in the playoffs and 19th overall since the regular season. The Thunder kept the pressure and an upset was looming but the Spurs kept their poise and Ginobili made clutch baskets. Coming into this series, the consensus was that the Thunder 3 were better than the Spurs 3. The Thunder would win this game and the series by outplaying the Spurs. That did not happen in Game 1. The old Big 3 had a good overall performance with 60 points, 24 rebounds and 11 assists while the young Big 3 had 63 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists. Since the Big 3 match-up was a tie, the Thunder needed their bench to outplay the Spurs and that's quite unlikely since the Spurs have the best bench in the NBA. Gary Neal, Stephen Jackson and Tiago Splitter all did decent jobs while the Thunder only had Derek Fisher provide help from their bench (Harden and Ginobili are "starters").

The Thunder Big 3 struggled with their shooting as they
combined for 22-57 including 10 turnovers
(Photo by Getty Images)

#ManuTime #sixthmanwars
There was a great in-game battle between Ginobili and Harden as the best sixth man in the NBA. Manu was a multiple winner of that award  and when healthy, is still the best sixth man in the league. His Game 1 performance further solidified his slight advantage over Harden. The gap is not very large but for one game, Manu was better and the Spurs have a 1-0 lead. Manu started aggressive making 3 baskets in the 1st quarter including a fadeaway trey at the buzzer. He came in shooting around 40% in the playoffs but he was hot last night and ended up 9-14. Ginobili then finished strong with 11 points in the fourth quarter and a couple of clutch baskets that had the Thunder players shaking their heads in disbelief.

The Thunder had less turnovers than the Spurs 13-17 but they were unable to capitalize fully on transition with a couple of missed dunks (Durant and Westbrook) and missed layups. They need to make all of these transition chances count because the Spurs are very efficient and smart in their offensive sets and those turnovers will likely be lessened in Game 2. The Thunder need to get Durant more shots because he has the best advantage against any Spurs defender. Westbrook was neutralized by Parker plus Ginobili outplayed Harden. This leaves Durant the chance to take over offensively, granted that they pass him the ball. Finally, Serge Ibaka needs to play more, especially in the 4th quarter. Coach Scott Brooks went Perkins or a smaller lineup and opted to bench Ibaka. That move took away any weak side help and left the Thunder with no rim protection as Manu continued to attack the paint without any fear.

#Tweet/Quote of the Night
"I want some nasty!" - Gregg Popovich, Spurs coach

#Stats #News

  • Harden did not attempt a free throw, first time that happened this season
  • Fisher started the game 5-5 (finished 6-8, 13 pts)
  • Westbrook blocked a couple of Parker's jumpers
  • Splitter airballed a free throw and went 1-5
  • Jackson led Spurs with +11, Sefalosha +11 for Thunder
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