The Spurs asked for it, and Golden State delivered.
The “Warr-ee-yours” have most definitely come out to play.
Too bad for San Antonio the same can’t be said for the NBA rule book during Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinal on Sunday.
You remember, that’s the game where the Spurs had the Warriors on the brink of a 3-1 deficit that none of their yellow-shirted thunder-stick waving fanatics would believe they could claw their way out of.
Since we now know why the NBA whistle-carrying trio refused to check the controversial instant replay late in regulation, the question becomes, WHY isn’t a blatant missed call able to be reversed? Especially with under a minute to play?
Just when you think the next time the Spurs would hear someone from David Stern’s Secret Ref Service explain the non-checking of the video replay with 16.9 seconds left to play, it would be the first time, the league actually did do some ‘splaining.
As the NBA mouthpiece detailed, since the refs did not SEE Bogut touching the ball while being clearly out of bounds, that allowed the 3
Blind Mice refs to allow for Jarrett Jack’s time out call, giving the ball to Golden State.
It’s always maddening in football to see a replay viewers and announcers agree needs to be overturned only to see it not. Just as it is to watch a game-tying home run hit in Cleveland only to have four umpires actually witness what the world sees and STILL rule it a NOT a homer.
The Spurs have every right to wonder why the Game 4 refs did not see what everyone else did: that Manu Ginobili’s 3-point miss went off Warriors center Andrew Bogut’s hand as the big Aussie was standing on the baseline. Meaning, out of bounds on Golden State. Spurs ball with a chance to win.
You know what happened. Time out Warriors. Golden State ball. The Warriors would miss the game winning try but scorch the Spurs in overtime en route to the 97-87 win to even up the best of seven series at 2-2.
But before you think we are going down the NBA version of the Grassy Knoll again, know this: There is no conspiracy against the Spurs.
True, the league would have no problems with the high-flying Warriors and their San Francisco/Oakland 5th largest TV market upsetting the aging Spurs and San Antonio’s 33rd sized viewing audience.
But the Spurs know this as well: There is no guarantee SA makes their game winning try if the refs are able to check the video and award the Spurs the ball. And there is no disputing the fact that the Spurs had the proverbial choke hold on Golden State, only to release the death grip on Mark Jackson’s merry men to race by in the final four minutes of regulation and OT.
After the game, Tim Duncan was asked about the non-replay. In typical Spurs fashion, Duncan dismissed any thoughts of that single call costing SA the game.
“It’s done now. Nothing’s going to change it,” was Timmy’s answer.
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather once wrote a book titled, “The Camera Never Blinks”. That is so much more true today in the age of digital video and with cameras shooting from every angle.
But as video never lies, neither do the Game 4 numbers don’t either.
Such as: It wasn’t the refs who bricked 11 free throws with a Shaq-like 56% FT shooting.
It was the Spurs who missed 15 of their last 17 shots in regulation and overtime.
Despite the Spurs playing decently solid defense on the Warrior wonder guards Klay Thompson (just 10 points on 5-for-13 shooting) and Steph Curry’s gimpy ankles (a very gutsy 22 points), Golden State got a golden game from rookie Harrison Barnes with his 26 points on a whopping 26 shots. Add in Jack’s jacking up 12 of his 24 points in the 4th quarter and OT, that equals a best of seven series suddenly whittled down to a best of three.
The always pivotal Game 5 remains just that: a high-percentage path to winning a tight series. The overall NBA playoff numbers hover around 87% for Game 5 victors advancing to the next round.
Since 2003, the Spurs are 7-3 in Game 5’s when the series is locked in a 2-2 stalemate. SA has gone on to win 8 of those 10 series situations.
So how do the Spurs win Game 5? Like they always do. Defense. Movement on offense. Keeping turnovers to a minimum.
It appears that Curry’s sprained ankle is worse than Tony Parker’s bruised thigh, but how do any of us know? Curry has demonstrated he has guts and grind to go with the glorious shooting touch that highlights his game.
The Spurs used to think the key to beating Golden State was keeping them under 100 points.
Not when San Antonio’s offense got stale, stagnant and sloppy late. An experienced team usually produces the opposite.
The Spurs know a return trip to the Bay Area is already set.
The only question is, can they hug it out with these young Golden State guns for the last time Thursday night after taking the series in Oracle Arena?
We’ll found out if that’s a possibility in Game 5.