Spurs 110 Rockets 107, Lead 3-2; Call Me The Basketball Whisperer

So a few minutes ago I posted this on my Facebook:

Then Manu does this:

Manu blocks Harden for the win

And I swear I feel like I’m the Basketball Whisperer or some sort of magician. But I’ll take it.

Well ok, let’s be honest. While you may be happy if you’re a Spurs fan, in the dying seconds any basketball purist would have been tearing his hair out.

Botched plays from either side were aplenty. First, Pau Gasol (4 pts in 20 mins.) forgets to give Patty Mills (20 pts in 43 mins.) a screen that would have allowed them to win in regulation. Mills sank his three but was just a tenth of a second late as he had to pump fake his defender before he could get a clear shot which he would not have to if Gasol had just stood on the 3 pt. line like he was supposed to.

This was followed later by Houston completely botching up their own offensive plays later on in the extension, with one leading them to force a hurried shot and another leading to a turnover which forced them to give up a foul.

It turned out to be a who – executes – first – wins game, with either team fumbling and grasping for even a few seconds of composure long enough to eck out a win.

Which is particularly why I chose to ask Manu Ginobili (12 pts in 31 mins.) the God of left handed layups to take over like I did in my FB message. When things go awry the chances of hero ball are higher, and while I don’t particularly enjoy that when that happens if it’s hero – ball that’s needed then so be it. I love watching well executed plays, pick and rolls, pick and pops, pick and drive then pass to open wing etc. etc., but hey if none of it is working give it to the guy who can score, right?

Then to be honest (again), I didn’t think that might happen either because he wasn’t really trying that hard and in fact it was Danny Green (16pts in 40 mins) who was driving to the basket for points, a rare enough spectacle in itself. But in the end with 107 to go and Houston needing a miracle three with the ball in the hands of one of the most capable players in the world that can deliver it, Manu gets behind Harden (33 pts in 43 mins.) to swat that ball away like yesterday’s bad news.

As of this writing I’m still trying to find out how bad Kawhi Leonard‘s (22 pts 38 mins.) knee or ankle injury is as he was sidelined through most of the crucial dying minutes. But even as I say that I have to wonder how effective he really is against a Rockets team that plays defense on him as efficiently as they do.

I am going to go ahead and give Houston the upper hand in this series. Their lineup is potent and points in the form of 3s can rain in from any side of their starting five. Harden’s occasional bonehead plays notwithstanding the talent level of this team is superb and Coach D’Antoni isn’t COY for nothing, while the Spurs don’t seem to have everything clicking, and Mills is forced to play full 43 minute games which I’m not sure he is used to in the absence of Parker.

Regardless though my overall feeling after this game is joy at the fact we actually have an exciting series to look forward to especially after the end to end blow outs up and down the playoffs’ 1st and 2nd round. I’m actually saving myself for the Cavs and Warriors hoping not to see them until they eventually meet in the Finals but with the blowout rates we’re having we may be better off just giving them the ball and the venue right now to save ourselves from having to watch another blowout.

At least this game gives me hope to watch an exciting one a couple days from now.

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