McDonald: Spurs embrace challenge of staving off elimination
Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation, wrote this nice piece about the San Antonio Spurs who will play their first elimination game this post season against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
So this was the moment the Spurs had been waiting for.
Down 13 points to Oklahoma City, with little more than five minutes to play in a pivotal Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, their plight spelled out on the scoreboard clock hanging overhead at the AT&T Center.
Maybe this was another turning point. Their season now on the line, the Spurs can only hope.
The Spurs ended Monday’s 108-103 loss on a 25-7 run, a spurt that nearly stole them another game at the finish line but also left their coach wondering why it took until the end of Game 5 for his team’s sense of desperation to kick in.
“We’ve been competing for three quarters in the past, and tonight we competed for two quarters,” Gregg Popovich said afterward. “If we don’t get that straight, it will be over.”
There will be no moral victories in how the Spurs finished Game 5, especially if a 20-game winning streak bleeds into a four-game losing streak.
Down 3-2 upon their return to Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight, the Spurs are hopeful that how they finished their third straight defeat might provide the blueprint for how to approach a do-or-it’s-done Game 6.
Namely, with some edge.
“Do we have another choice?” rhetorically asked guard Manu Ginobili, whose first start of the postseason yielded a season-high 34 points in Game 5. “It’s not like we have a Game 8 or 9 to recover.”
With their top four scorers under the age of 24, including 23-year-old NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, the Thunder have navigated these playoffs with a level-headedness that belies their youth.
OKC dispatched the past two NBA champions, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers, to get to the conference finals. Having charged back from a 2-0 deficit, the Thunder stand one win away from doing the same to the Spurs.
If the Thunder can pull it off, it would earn the franchise its first Finals bid since the then-Seattle Super Sonics lost to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1996.
“We feel like we’re an elite basketball team, and we’ve never looked at our age,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I don’t give them the excuse and say, ‘It’s OK, you’re only 20.’?”
As Oklahoma City stands ready to embrace the future, the Spurs are determined to make one more push from the past.
They have never won a series when facing a Game 6 on the road. To stay alive in this one, they will need to win at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the Thunder are unbeaten this postseason.
“You have to win on the road if you are going to win a championship,” said point guard Tony Parker, who showed signs of life late in Game 5 after struggles going back to Game 3. “We have a great challenge before us. It’s going to be hard, but I know we have the team to do it.”
Read the complete article on Spurs Nation.
(Photo by Kirby Lee/US Presswire)