The San Antonio Spurs overcame a 9-point fourth quarter deficit to win Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, extending their winning streak to 19 games overall. The Spurs are now 9-0 in the playoffs after their 101-98 victory, which was the closest they’ve come to a loss this post season.
Manu Ginobili scored 26 points in the game, including two huge buckets at the rim in the final two minutes that helped stymie a last minute Thunder run. Tony Parker scored 18 points, dished out 6 assists, and pulled down 8 rebounds as he won the battle of the point guards, out-dueling Russell Westbrook who scored 15 points on 33% (7-21) shooting. Parker’s pull-up jumper that tied the game at 73 early in the fourth quarter capped off an 11-2 run that would give San Antonio the necessary momentum to finish the job. From then on, Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan were able to hold serve and build a seven point lead that would fluctuate, but never falter, throughout the rest of the game.
Kevin Durant scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but he missed all 4 of his shots from behind the arc and had a rather pedestrian night from the field, going 8-19 on the evening. James Harden’s 19 points may look good in the box score, but he was a mess all night. He had 4 turnovers and a team worst in +/-, logging a -11.
The Thunder set the tone for the game early as they asserted themselves shortly into the second quarter and throughout the third. They were relentless attacking the hoop and, if only for a time, were able to halt the terrifyingly fantastic half-court offense of the Spurs. However, San Antonio was able to ameliorate their situation by the fourth quarter as Head Coach Gregg Popovich ran masterful set after masterful set, which quickly turned the tide in their favor.
The Spurs are playing on another level right now, and with a marked coaching advantage, it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. However, that’s not to say that Oklahoma City’s big 3 can’t turn things around. If the Thunder can get more efficient production from Harden, Durant, and Westbrook, there’s a very real possibility they take Game 2.