Well there you go. Coach Popovich conceded this game sometime late 3rd and OKC finally gets a W while breaking the Spurs 20 win streak. And the only relevant graphic I can think of to reflect this game are the stats, which don’t really do the job because again, the Spurs gave it up by resting his starters in the 4th, so any numbers you see here don’t really mean anything.
What I take away from this game is two things. FIRST, OKC has finally determined a system to stop Tony Parker, adopting an interesting switching defense that negates picks and rolls.
This way, Westbrook does not waste energy chasing Parker all over the place. The effect was immediate, and allowed defense specialists like Sefalosha, who worked his help D role to the hilt, to shine, because he’s the guy who gets the chance to swipe away steals or cause blocks after the first defender does his job.
The SECOND thing I take from this is how Coach Popovich seemed to say ‘I do not have an answer to that, and so I would rather concede this game and prepare for the next one instead of vainly trying to salvage it.’ In other words, he’d rather compete prepared than adopt a gung – ho ‘bahala na’ system of throwing in his best players, hoping for the best and risking injury.
And you know what? I like that attitude. If you’re not running a system you’re leaving your game to chance, and professionals do not do that. Instead they hunker down back to work to prepare for the next. I know that sounds like I’m a freaking Spurs fanatic here, but I gotta give more to the Spurs than just knee – jerk calling them quitters. They are far too good and too talented to be called that.
I gotta hand it to OKC for finding a solution to the Spurs constant picks and rolls. It’s just further proof there’s always a play out there that can be used against any other, and it harkens to why I love this sport so much. Any buncha guys can play any other, no matter how outsmarted or overwhelmed they were. It’s all a matter of choreographing moves and working as a team.
OTOH I can’t wait to see what Coach Popovich does. This is the NBA’s best coach as chosen by peers and press with 4 rings. If he can’t find a solution to counter OKC’s no one in this world can.