KSAT Ball Hog Blog: Will the Spurs' dynasty end tonight in OKC?
A KSAT coworker brought up a good point after Monday night's gut wrenching Game 5 loss.
Tim Duncan looked more distraught than he had ever seen after any playoff loss in his Hall of Fame career.
The emotionless, rock solid leader of the Spurs for more than a decade sat on the bench in the closing seconds, head in hands, contemplating what had happened to a once magical season that was now slipping away.
TD's demeanor goes along with what I've said before this series began. This is San Antonio's last shot for a championship with this current group of players. The clock is ticking and you get the feeling they know it by the way they played Monday night.
For the first time all season, the Spurs panicked. They looked tight, hesitant and out-of-sync. This was no longer the free-flowing offensive juggernaut we've seen over the past three months.
They turned into a team that pressed on too many possessions to the tune of 21 turnovers. A team that knows this opportunity, just two wins away from another finals appearance, a possible fifth ring, may never come again.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the Thunder are really, really good and they will only get better. Forget the Heat and "can't close" Lebron, OKC is the franchise that should win "Not 1, Not 2, Not 3" NBA titles over the next decade.
You see it already in their DNA. Fourth quarters like Durant's in Game 4 or shots like Harden's in Game 5 are what championship runs are made of, but now comes the next hurdle for OKC: The close out win with a berth to the NBA Finals on the line.
The Spurs know this and must exploit the pressure that has now shifted to Oklahoma City if they want to bring this series back home for a Game 7, which I believe San Antonio would win.
Yes, the Thunder have managed to stay poised while dispatching former champs like the Mavs and Lakers, but tonight is a whole different monster for a young team.
We can go over X's and O's all day or the Spurs' bench disappearing act, but series like these aren't won by role players evident from what we've witnessed with KD and Harden.
For the Spurs, it comes down to playing with desperation, urgency and focus early, and stars making plays when it matters most. And yes, I'm looking right at Tony Parker. The same TP who earned All-NBA honors, the TP I plugged for MVP back in February, the TP that hasn't shown up for the last three games.
Coach Popovich said it best Monday night. The Spurs are not a championship caliber team if they can not win a game like this on the road.
Tim Duncan will go down as the best power forward in the game, but now is not the time to lament, this is the Western Conference Finals.
A win tonight against a hungry OKC team, in front of a rabid crowd may be the toughest thing Manu, TP and Timmy have had to do in years.
But they will find a way if they want to keep this once magical season alive and more important, keep the walls from crumbling on their dynasty a year early.
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