It’s been all over social media and rightfully so. On the very last play of the game, with the Thunder leading 98-97, Dion Waiters was tasked with inbounding the ball, and Manu Ginobili was pressuring the inbounds.
As Ginobili was frantic trying to obscure Waiters’ vision, Dion leaned in and nudged Ginobili out of the way with his elbow and was able to get the ball inbounds — even though it was ultimately stolen and the Spurs were able to get off a potential game-winning shot when they had a 3-on-1 advantage. Which they missed. Upon further review of the play, Ginobili stepped over the line before he was shoved by Waiters which would also be a violation.
Obviously Waiters can't shove Ginobili, but Ginobili can't go over the line either. pic.twitter.com/9SY1UO8FLH
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 3, 2016
The referees acknowledged that a call should’ve been made. Crew Chief Ken Mauer said, “it’s a play that we have never seen before, ever, but we feel it should have been an offensive foul on Waiters,” but it’s important to remember that San Antonio didn’t lose the game because of that play.
Oklahoma City looked like the better team and were seeking vengeance for their horrible Game 1 performance.
The Spurs let up 29 points in the opening quarter, and the eight-point deficit that came of it proved to be a deciding factor in the game. In that quarter, Russell Westbrook was scoring at will and poured in 14 points on 5/8 shooting while OKC shot 56% from the field. LaMarcus Aldridge, who was the only Spur that was efficient on offense, had eight points in the opening quarter as San Antonio didn’t even eclipse 40% shooting.
While Aldridge had yet another incredible performance, 41 points on 15/21 shooting, the next highest-scoring Spur was Kawhi Leonard with 14. Manu Ginobili was the third and final double-digit scorer and he had 11.
Kevin Durant showed tremendous aggression and got many easy shots to show for it. He ended the game with 28 on 11/19 shooting and attempted just two threes, hitting one. Westbrook performed just as well and had 25 points on 11/25 shooting and ten assists, and committed just three turnovers. Adams, Kanter, and Serge Ibaka all stepped up and finished with 12 points apiece.
After the first quarter, San Antonio was actually able to outscore the Thunder 76-69 in the following periods. However, defense and rebounding win championships and the Spurs got beat on both fronts. The best defensive team in the NBA allowed OKC to shoot 48% from the field which isn’t too bad, but the Thunder pounded San Antonio on the backboards.
One of the best ways to beat the Thunder is to keep them off the glass, as they’re the number one team in offense rebounding, 13.1 per game, and second in defensive rebounding, 35.6 per game. In typical fashion, Oklahoma City hit their season average with 48 total rebounds in their win on Monday. Steven Adams had 17 to lead the team, Enes Kanter had eight off the bench, and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant each had seven. The Spurs pulled down just 37 total boards.
That game one performance was most likely a fluke, and if this level of play keeps up, we’re in for a long and entertaining seven-game series.
Game 3 is set for Friday, May 6, at 9:30 PM EST in Oklahoma City.