I hope you had a chance to enjoy last night's Game 6 between the Spurs and Thunder, because as color commentator Steve Kerr noted, it was some basketball at the highest level of play. It was a tale of two halves, and the Spurs' stellar first half was still not quite good enough to match the Thunder's 2nd half of smart offensive play and suffocating defense. We have a few days now to reflect on what it all means, so now let's get a flavor of the reaction from the NBA community.
"The leadership Russell has displayed, I’m proud of him. He gets criticized a lot, and I tell him, don’t worry about what other people say. You’re not their point guard. You’re my point guard. I like what he’s about. I like what he represents. He had a never-quit attitude tonight and he did a good job of helping us win this game." - Scott Brooks
Russell Westbrook: "I just think we believed from when we went down and got into halftime. Guys came together and said we can come out with this win. I think coming out of the half we did a great job defensively picking up our intensity, being a little more aggressive, and that’s Thunder basketball. And that’s what got us the win tonight."
Spurs fans are sad today, but also angry at both how an opportunity with a huge lead slipped away as well as how a number of calls went against them in the 4th. I try not to blame refs when the Thunder lose, but Spurs fans have a right to be upset and you can see it in their comments.
Lowe argues that there were some bad calls that went against the Spurs in the 4th, but on the whole those calls did not decide the game. However, the one that made him most upset was the technical foul called on Stephen Jackson after he hit a 3-pointer.
In the end, the Spurs had both experience and youth, but they did not have youthful experience. As it turns out, the Thunder do, and that was the difference.
Arnovitz takes a great look at the way the Thunder in general and Russell Westbrook in particular are assimilating the more nuanced aspects of the game on the fly. Despite his high turnovers, Westbrook played a very strong game from the point position and enabled the Thunder to seize control.
There is something so sweet and poignant about the way, with time still left on the clock, Durant practically falls into the arms of his devoted family. It was as if he was shrugging the weight of the world off his shoulders, and his family was there to catch him.
Stephen Jackson is loved by many, hated by many more, and is brutally candid in his assessment of the series:
"When they figured it out in Game 3, when they started playing together, they became the better team. That's what we do. When we won those 20 [consecutive] games, we were playing together. But now these guys are playing together and, I'm telling you, they're hard to beat."
According to these advanced metrics, Kevin Durant played twice as well as the Spurs' best player. LeBron who?
"It had nothing to do with stats...It had everything to do with who we are as men. Who we are as a team with the type of spirit that we want to show every time down the court. It was all about body language, about being a family. Our guys did that the first possession of the second half and they did not look back." - Scott Brooks