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The Spurs Machine Continues: Have The Thunder Quit?

Blink and you miss it.

The San Antonio Spurs machine doesn’t stop for anybody. Its execution is unmatched. Pass, set screen, and repeat until a weakness can be exploited or an opening appears. It’s almost like hypnosis. And the instant you lose focus or start to daydream, those pesky old men in the silver and black jerseys have burned you.

In the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder, they managed to lose focus 17 minutes into Game 2. And that momentary lapse was never recovered.

“I think holding them to 77 is impressive,” Boris Diaw said. “But I also think they gave up on the game pretty early, so I think it was great that we got to score a lot of baskets but also keep them below 80.”

It’s amazing to think that a championship caliber team can give up so easily in a playoff game. With 7:11 left in the second quarter, and the Thunder up 36-35, the Spurs had an absolutely laughable offensive sequence that would convince anyone it just wasn’t their night.

7:11 36-35 Tony Parker misses 8-foot jumper
7:09 36-35 Tim Duncan offensive rebound
7:09 36-35 Tim Duncan misses tip shot
7:09 36-35 Tim Duncan offensive rebound
7:09 36-35 Tim Duncan misses tip shot
7:05 36-35 Tim Duncan offensive rebound
7:05 36-35 Tim Duncan misses layup

The Spurs would finally put some points on the board a minute later, thanks to a couple Tim Duncan free throws. And then it all snowballed for the Thunder. San Antonio managed to go on a 21-8 run to finish out the first half and put themselves up 14 points. The machine didn’t stop there. The Spurs came out to start the third quarter with another 18-6 run in six minutes, nailing Oklahoma City’s coffin shut for a second straight game.

Dejected and defeated, the Thunder bench was emptied. Scott Brooks had waived the white flag that Gregg Popovich had raised so many times this regular season, to save his teams energy for when it mattered. Now only needing six more victories to finally capture that elusive fifth championship, Popovich’s master plan is taking shape.

So have the Thunder quit?

History says they might as well. Out of 255 teams that have fallen down 0-2 to their opponent, only 16 of them have managed to flip the script and win the series. The 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder represent one of those sweet sixteen. But this is new territory for OKC. Not since 1978 have they experienced a 35-point defeat in the playoffs. Back when they were the something called the Seattle Supersonics.

It’s hard to overcome any kind of deficit, no matter how large or small, when you shoot 10% (2-20) from beyond the arch. Even more difficult when you only attempt 10 total free throws, converting on just half of them. But let’s revert back to that masterful 39-14 run San Antonio went on, that spanned the second and third quarter. Durant and Westbrook were the only offense Scott Brooks had. Caron Butler hit a jumpshot with 8:36 left in the second quarter; No one else joined Russ and KD’s scoring binge until Reggie Jackson’s jumper fell at the 4:28 mark of the third.

With all due respect to the opponent, I’m willing to chalk up Game 2’s basketball clinic as just an off night for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though OKC has to dwell with this loss until Sunday, they get to do so in the comfort of their own home. Meanwhile, San Antonio will temporarily bask in the glory. Not a single Spurs player was on the court for more than 29 minutes on Wednesday. And with such a long break in between Games 2 and 3, the Spurs won’t have to travel immediately to Oklahoma City.

So while the Spurs enjoy one more home-cooked meal, make sure you savor that free cup of coffee and finally take the restroom break you’ve been needing. The Spurs machine had been shut down. Because come Sunday, you won’t even get a chance to blink.

Once Popovich hits reboot, the execution won’t quit.

About John Diaz

John is a University of Houston student studying journalism and a jack of all trades (but master of none) for the Project Spurs Network. His other titles include managing editor of Spurs on Sixth and associate editor of Texas Redzone Report. You may follow him on Twitter @byjohndiaz.