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Spurs Roll Into Conference Finals, NBA Combine Continues

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Huge performance by the Spurs sans Kawhi Leonard sends them to the West Finals against Warriors.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

That was...unexpected. In a series that has gone back-and-forth, with each team looking dominant at times; in a game in Houston that Kawhi Leonard was going to miss due to his injured ankle; in a win-or-go-home game for the Rockets, a Spurs 40 point blowout was not what I expected to see.

It was shocking. The Spurs took control early. They concentrated on getting the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge in the post, and he looked better than he has all post-season, using his length to shoot over shorter defenders, and converting. That opened things up for everyone else, and they all took advantage. Six Spurs finished in double-figures, led by Aldridge’s 34. Jonathan Simmons, starting in place of Leonard, chipped in 18 and played some excellent defense on James Harden, and the Spurs got contributions from the entire squad. They ended the night shooting 53 percent from the field, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds, and only turning it over seven times. It was a terrific display.

And that was the offense. Defensively, they stymied the Rockets by staying home on their shooters, and staying near the rim with their bigs, taking away the kinds of shots the Rockets want. They kept everyone but Clint Capela (14 FTAs) off the line, and offered the Rockets mid-range shots they didn’t want. The Rockets made 13-40 from three, and amazingly converted only nine two-point field goals all night.

Especially disappointing given his magnificent season was James Harden’s final appearance. A disaster. Only ten points and six turnovers for Harden, who seemed shockingly passive. He took only two shots in the first half, and 11 for the game, and never looked engaged. It was a bizarre performance for a guy who has carried this Rockets team all year. At any rate, a successful year for the Rockets, even if it ends a little sooner than they wanted.

Meanwhile, at the NBA Combine...

The Wolves interviewed a bunch of guys yesterday including John’s son T.J. Leaf, who was very impressed how well the Wolves knew his game. Of course Meyer has been slipping tape under Thibs’ door all season, and Thibs just can’t help himself. Josh Hart, Justin Jackson, De’Aaron Fox are among the other guys the Wolves spoke to, though it’s worth noting that these interviews are assigned by the NBA.

The combine attendees were also poked and prodded and measured. If you are interested in that, Draft Express has you covered, as usual. Ike Anibogu! There’s a guy I would think about if I had multiple first rounders—crazy wing span, already 250 pounds, and the youngest guy in the draft I think.

Today in History

1215: Barons present demands to King John that ultimately becomes the Magna Carta.
1459: Sun City, India founded by Rao Jodhpur.
1551: San Marcos University in Lima, Peru opens.
1789: Society of St. Tammany formed by Revolutionary War veterans.
1789: William Wilberforce makes first abolition speech in House of Commons.
1797: Napoleon conquers Venice.
1870: Manitoba becomes Canadian Province.
1902: 140,000 coal miners strike in Pennsylvania.
1916: James Connolly and Sean McDermott executed after Easter Uprising in Dublin.
1926: First ever flight over the North Pole.
1928: Benito Mussolini serverely restricts women’s rights in Italy.
1932: Body of Lindbergh baby found in New Jersey.
1937: King George VI coronated.
1940: German troops cross Meuse River on way to conquering France.
1968: March of the Poor reaches Washington DC.
1970: Harry Blackmun confirmed as Supreme Court justice.

Today’s Musical Birthday

Brett Gurewitz, best known as a member of Bad Religion, born in 1962.