The Spurs took a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference Finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a resounding 117-89 win in game five in San Antonio. After being stifled in both games in Oklahoma City, the Spurs found their offensive verve again, moving the ball crisply and making shots. They converted over 50% from the field and from behind the arc in a classic Spurs display of efficient offense.
Gregg Popovich made a change in the lineup for this one, replacing Tiago Splitter with Matt Bonner, and then keeping at least one big who could stretch the floor in the game throughout. The idea was to force Serge Ibaka to guard away from the rim, opening up space in the paint both for Tim Duncan and for drivers. It worked, and the Spurs took advantage by finding open shooters as the Thunder were forced to scramble in their rotations.
The other big advantage the Spurs exploited was their bench. Led by a magnificent night by Manu Ginobili, who finished with 19 points on 7-9 from the field, the Spurs bench outscored the Thunder 55-26, and much of the Thunder production came after the game was no longer in doubt. In addition to Ginobili, the Spurs got significant contributions from Patty Mills and Boris Diaw. The Thunder, especially now that Reggie Jackson has joined the starting lineup, are punchless off the bench, and it hurt them especially in the 2nd quarter.
The Thunder were able to keep up offensively early, as both teams got off to hot starts, and the game was tied at 32 after one. In the second quarter, however, the Spurs started hitting from beyond the arc, and the Thunder simply couldn't keep up. That was the story for the rest of the game, as it's possible that some of the Thunder were suffering from fatigue after logging heavy minutes back in Oklahoma.
It was a classic Spurs performance; one of those nights you wonder how they ever lose. They limited their turnovers, made shots, and never let the Thunder back into the game once they established a lead.
Game six is scheduled for Saturday evening in Oklahoma City.
Pacers at Heat
The Pacers survived a first elimination game on Wednesday night at home behind a monster 2nd half by Paul George and a foul plagued game for LeBron James. They will try to stave off elimination again, this time in Miami.
Despite James only playing 24 minutes and scoring seven points, the Pacers barely hung on in game five, as the Heat had several chances late, but failed to convert. It will take an even better game from Indiana to have a chance tonight, as they won't get the same conditions; notably James isn't going to be a non-factor for most of the game again.
The Heat will try to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight time. I guess that summer of 2010 worked out OK for them.
The 5-0 Minnesota Lynx are back in action tonight, hosting the San Antonio Silver Stars. The Stars are off to a 3-2 start and are led by Danielle Robinson, who leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists. For the Lynx, Maya Moore's scoring average fell below 30 a game when she netted 14 against Chicago. Can she get it back over that mark tonight?
The game is at 7:00 pm Central at Target Center, and is being televised by FSN+. Faklis is going to be covering this one for us, so we should get a game story posted tonight.
- There was a bit of kerfuffle yesterday in coaching news, as Mark Stein reported for ESPN that Vinny del Negro (former Bulls and Clippers coach) had interviewed with Flip Saunders and was "strong candidate" for the job. It was later clarified by local reporters that del Negro interviewed prior to the Joerger business last weekend, and that calling him a "strong candidate" was probably going too far.
- Milt Newton, speaking to the media following a workout of potential 2nd round/UDFAs said:
GM Milt Newton on coach search: "We’re not rushed for time to select a coach. The process will take care of itself."— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) May 29, 2014
- Newton also said this about the possibility of a Kevin Love trade:
Milt says team wants to keep Love, but said, "If that’s not the case, you best believe we’ll be a better team based on what happens."— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) May 29, 2014
- Jerry Zgoda further reports that the Wolves have more workouts scheduled for Sunday, with players who might be under consideration with the 13th pick. I haven't been able to get any names as of this writing.
- Elsewhere, there were conflicting reports about the sale of the Clippers. The L.A. Times reported that Steve Ballmer had reached an agreement to buy the team for $2 billion. Donald Sterling's lawyer disputed that, and indicated that Sterling was not prepared to sell. That will presumably be out of his hands on Tuesday, when the owners are scheduled to vote to take the team away from Sterling and force a sale. At that point, the league would be in charge of the sale process.
- $2B. That's a lot of money. The Bucks sold for less than a third of that amount earlier this year, so I suppose we have a range of values currently for NBA franchises. The Clippers are due to negotiate a new local TV deal in the next year or two, I believe. That's gonna cost.
1498: Christopher Columbus departs on third voyage to America
1539: Hernando de Soto "discovers" Florida. Orders the Early Bird Special
1783: First U.S. daily newspaper published in Philadelphia by Benjamin Tower
1814: Treaty of Paris re-sets French borders
1848: Mexico ratifies deal "selling" huge chunks of the west and southwest to the U.S.
1868: First celebration of what is now known as Memorial Day (the Decoration Day)
1922: Lincoln Memorial dedicated
1937: Memorial Day Massacre: police in Chicago shoot pro-union demonstrators; 10 die.