Following a devastating loss in the Western Conference Finals after leading the series 2-0, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich addressed the media in an attempt to define what went wrong:
''We faced a team that beat us fair and square. We reached our limit,'' Popovich said.
Pop, famous for his...shall we say, brevity...has dropped another gem on us. With questions abounding on the future of this team and it's star Tim Duncan, who is without a contract for next season, one wonders what underlies a comment like "we reached our limit." Does Pop see major roster changes coming? Why did the Spurs reach their limit?
With so much post-game talk of the impact of the officiating down the stretch, it is just as likely that Pop was dispelling any notion that the officials determined the outcome of the game. And I agree. They did not.
Officials may affect margins, but they do not affect outcomes. The Spurs' third quarter collapse had nothing to do with the officiating. Had the Spurs been able to make anything in the third quarter, they would have held the lead. Had they not begun the fourth quarter with 4 turnovers, they could have retaken the lead. There's no question that there were some horrible calls that took points off of the board in the fourth quarter, and that made a late charge more difficult. But this game was decided in the third quarter when the Spurs handed all of the momentum to the Thunder right out of the halftime locker room.
In many ways, Pop's response says everything you need to know.
Did the Spurs reach their limit? I don't know. This same team dominated the Thunder over their previous ten matchups. There's no question they had the talent and the ability to beat them again. But something was different with this team over the last four games. In Game Six, the Spurs appeared to simply ran out of gas in that second half. Whether it was age, fatigue, adjustments by the Thunder or something else I don't know but they hit a wall that they could not climb. The Thunder overcame a 15 point halftime deficit, earning the right to play in the NBA Finals. They earned it and they deserve it.
Pop is a good coach, the team lacks the materials to be champions. Its that simple. Seldom would a guy admit the shortcomings of his team. Pop is that man. Its time to rebuild and revamp the team. If you have a team with too many NPAs, Non-Performing Assets any coach would meet the same problems Pop did. Bonner, Blair, Anderson, Green, Mills and Splitter ALL Lemons, ALL disappeared at crunch time. These guys do NOT to wear the black and silver uniform. They have to GO.
We were handicapped by players who didn't play well - rotation players that had to be taken out of the rotation. We established a style during the regular season, that we couldn't continue due to a lack of quality bench play. We had to shorten the rotation and change to a different style. A difficult thing to do in the playoffs. Danny Green, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, and to a large extent Splitter, were largely useless in the playoffs. Our depth went from a strength to a detriment. Green went from almost 44% from 3 in the regular season to 22% against the Thunder. Bonner 44% to 20%. Gary Neal was slightly less of a decline going from 42% to 33%, but 0-6 in the crucial game 5 loss at home. Pop could only play Tiago 6 minutes in game 4 and 1 minute in game 6 because he was so ineffective.
Granted, the Thunder played great and contributed, but these guys missed an awful lot of wide open 3s, which if not a threat, allows the Thunder to collapse on Parker more. They wilted under the pressure. Obviously we have a large discrepancy between our experienced vets, and our deer-caught-in-headlights bench.
The good news is that if we end up having to stick with this squad, they have the experience under their belts and will hopefully improve more than our vets will lose with another year.
Couldn't have said it better. Just like last year with the grizzlies, it sucked but you had to give them credit for their effort. They were beasts just like OKC was a beast this year. Most of us knew it was going to end with these two teams in the west, but had no idea how things would transpire. Well, OKC became a beast this year and its something we'll have to prepare for this summer.