The Demoralizing Factor: Game-Winning Shots

There are two types of fans in the world.

There are the fans that have faith in their team, and never waver. Right now, these fans may be a little taken back by the surprising start to this series, one that sees the eighth-seeded Mavericks own a 2-1 lead heading into Monday night’s game four. However, they know the San Antonio Spurs are the better team, having shown that in the regular season, and are still confident the Spurs can come back and pull this out.

Then we have the cliff-jumpers. These fans became so deflated after Vince Carter’s incredible, buzzer-beating three swished the bottom of the net that they have lost faith in the team they know and love.

That’s the way sports go. We’ve seen it before, and we will see it again.

Taking a not-so-much-fun trip down memory lane, Spurs fans will be quick to remember .4. Every Spurs fan in the world celebrated when Tim Duncan’s miracle shot dropped in. Then that other thing happened. In game six, no Spur starter, or Manu Ginobili, shot over 40% from the field, and the Spurs went on to lose the game, and the series. Devin Brown was the best shooter in the game, percentage-wise. The argument to be had is whether the Spurs were demoralized after letting one they knew they had slip, or if it was just a solid defensive performance by the Lakers.

The tale of last summer will not be discusses to a T. A certain play will never cross my eyes again. Spurs fans know the story. There certainly was a demoralization factor.

On the other end, the Spurs have shown the ability to bounce back in the past. In 2003, then Suns point guard Stephon Marbury nailed a game-winning three point running dagger in game one of the opening round. For those that need a refresher, here it is:

It was a stunner. The Spurs were supposed to have very little trouble with this version of the Suns, an eight seed. Now doesn’t this sound eerily familiar to this season?

In 2003, the Spurs responded in game two behind Duncan’s 22 and Stephen Jackson’s 23 points. The held the Suns to only 76 points, 19 below their average and shut down All-Star Shawn Marion, holding him to only six points on 3-14 shooting. The Spurs went on to win the NBA Championship that season. The demoralization factor was non-existent there.

Basking in the Finals glory a little more, Robert Horry’s shot comes to mind. After completely taking over game five and pulling off the victory, the series shifted back to the Lone Star State. Looking at trends and listening to analysts, the demoralizing way Detroit lost game five would be too much for them to recover. Yet, in game six, the Pistons rebounded to force a 7th game in San Antonio.

As seen, a huge game-winning shot in the playoffs isn’t always the end of the world.

Gregg Popovich said this after the game three defeat (via ESPN Dallas):

“I don’t think the guys are disrespecting Dallas because we beat them in the season four times. They know it’s the playoffs. But at the same time, I’d like to see a little bit more nastiness, a little bit more physicality, a little bit more fire from people.”

And the last time Pop wanted some nasty:

The Spurts went on to outscore the Oklahoma City Thunder 39 to 27 in the fourth quarter behind a “nasty” performance.

My mind wants to say panic, but my memory serves me better. Let’s hope this carbon copy of the 2006 series ceases to continue. Everyone remembers how that one ended.

So, Spurs fans, which type of fan are you? Are you panicking?

(stats via

Andrew Ball

About Andrew Ball

Andrew is a Texas A&M graduate and has written for ProjectSpurs since April 2014.