After splitting four games none of which were close, we finally got a classic in the Spurs-Rockets series, with the Spurs prevailing at home in overtime, 110-107. There were no end to big plays in this one: Big shots from Patty Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Manu Ginobili in regulation, monster threes from Patrick Beverly and Ryan Anderson in overtime, but a series of huge plays by Danny Green and finally a Manu block on a Harden three at the end sent the Spurs home winners.
At least tonight. Kawhi Leonard twisted his ankle in the third quarter, and though he tried to play in the fourth, he just couldn’t go, and wound up sitting out the entire overtime. They were able to survive without him for a period, but it’s hard to imagine them winning without a reasonably healthy Leonard in game six, so we’ll see.
The Spurs were finally able to take advantage on the offensive glass (18 offensive boards) in the absence of Nene, who will miss the rest of the playoffs. That meant the Rockets played extremely small for much of the game, and ultimately it was a problem for them. A bigger problem, however, was how their offense stagnated late in the game, especially in overtime, when the consistently let the clock wind down too far and were forced into desperation heaves. Credit to the Spurs defense as well, especially Green, Ginobili, Mills, and Jonathan Simmons, all of whom found themselves on James Harden late, and did a good job of keeping him in front. Harden finished with a triple-double: 33-10-10, but also turned it over nine times, several at key moments.
It was clear that both teams were tired in the fourth quarter and overtime, with a lot of missed shots both ways. Which team can stave off fatigue might be the deciding factor going forward.
Here’s something I was thinking about when watching this game: Will there reach a point when the game gets less interesting because of the three pointer? Let me be clear: I enjoy the Rockets. I like how they play. I also think one of the things that’s fun about the NBA is seeing teams succeed with different styles, which is why this series is compelling.
But if we get to the point where every team is averaging 40+ 3PAs a game, and it’s in large part a glorified three-point shooting contest every night, is that going to be a problem? Because it feels like we’re headed that way.
Today in History
1497: Amerigo Vespucci begins fist voyage to New World.
1503: Columbus “discovers” the Cayman Islands.
1655: Jamaica conquered by English.
1752: Ben Franklin experiments with his kite.
1774: Louis XVI becomes King of France.
1775: Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia, names George Washington supreme commander.
1775: Green Mountain Boys capture Fort Ticonderoga, NY.
1865: Jefferson Davis captured by Union troops in Georgia.
1871: Treaty ends the Franco-Prussian War.
1906: First meeting of the Russian Duma.
1924: J. Edgar Hoover appointed head of FBI.
1940: Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister, replacing Neville Chamberlain.
1994: Nelson Mandela sworn in as President of South Africa.
Today’s Musical Birthday
Sid Vicious, born in 1957 (d. 1979.)