Kawhi Goes Off; Spurs Lose Anyway

Kawhi made seven of the Spurs’ nine made threes. Danny Green six (of six) of the twenty-one misses. Patti Mills went 1/4, Manu 0/4. Memphis made twelve of twenty-seven spread out over a handful o players.

The running subplot for the Spurs has been: Who will help Kawhi? Tonight Tony Parker was that guy, helping with 22 points on a series of nostalgic drives to the cup. Manu had his fourth straight blanking and Danny Green’s jumper was dry.

LaMarcus put up only 13, but had an efficient night and looked aggressive. He even had some highlight dunks.

So how did the Spurs lose this thing even though Kawhi nearly did everything in his power to try to steal it? Well, they had no answer for Conley that doesn’t involve putting the Klaw on him (which means Parker has Carter 🙃). That’s not a game-ending proposition, but not hitting open jumpers is. Mills missed the open looks that keep the offense humming and Danny Green couldn’t buy a bucket.

When Kawhi is more human, the Spurs are set up to get blown off the court. The Grizz former D-leaguers are getting buckets and making plays, while the Spurs are missing jumpers. Manu missed a rhythm three, and on the following defensive possession lost his man for a corner three. That’s how you lose.

After all that, we have to acknowledge the tough-as-hell Grizz squad that would otherwise be fun to root for. That old-school bully ball is what the Spurs have recently adopted to much success, but as Bane said “Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it.”

LMA and Pau are getting bullied — not into submission — but to the point where they don’t have an obvious advantage. Without the inside-out threat, the offense is a little out of rhythm. That’s the only explanation I can muster for Manu’s disappearance.

Mills had a chance to push the lead to four in OT but was blocked and Gasol got a three-point play the other way. That’s good hustle basketball on their end, and the type of play that it seems only Kawhi is making the Spurs’ way right now.

Before the series I called a tough six-gamer but was swayed a bit by the easy first two games. The silver lining is that this reminds me of the Mavs series from 2014. Yes, that was the year that the same Vince Carter hit a three that put Dallas up 2-1.. That tough series propelled the Spurs on to the best basketball seen until the Warriors copied it.