We just had the chance to watch the game of the year. So many things happened that are fascinating conversation starters, and it was just fun to watch! The Spurs won a double OT game against OKC 154 – 147. Here’s all you need to know.
Go Spurs, go!
This is getting ridiculous. I don’t know how many years in a row we’ve said: “OK, this is the season the Spurs are going to drop off.” They lost Kawhi, DeMar and LaMarcus are mid-range players in a three-point league. They have eight new players, and Dejuonte Murray tore his ACL before the season. In addition to all that, Pop repeated he hates the three and thinks it is destroying the game.
The Spurs are 14 – 4 in their last 18 games, sitting at 6th in the West with a 25 – 18. According to ESPN’s projections, they have an 87.2% chance to make the playoffs and are projected to have 47 wins. Their ability to reinvent themselves is fascinating. How did they do it?
As always, they are ahead of the trend. The key is to start doing something before everyone catches on. Ball movement and threes became a mainstream trend with the Splash Brothers. A year before that the Spurs played that game and dominated the Heat in the Finals. The moment everyone starts playing like that, you lose your edge. So how do you combat the analytics revolution in bombing threes? Surgical precision.
The Spurs are last in three-point attempts, but first in 3 point efficiency. Their top two players, DeRozan and Aldrige, are both under one 3-point attempt per game, with good reason. DeMar is shooting 17.5% and Aldrige 14.3%. Everyone else on the Spurs is shooting efficient from three, around or over 36%. They have five players shooting over 40%! So they don’t take a lot of them, but when they do, it’s efficient. On the other end of the spectrum, James Harden shot 12.5 threes a game and took 23 threes against the Warriors a few days ago – the Spurs average 24. So when needed, Harden shoots as many threes as the entire Spurs team.
So how did they do against OKC? They made their first 14 attempts, and finished the game with 16 – 19 from behind the arc; a staggering 84.2%!
56 – 9 – 4 – 4
That’s points – rebounds – assist – blocks, courtesy of LaMarcus Aldrige. He was 100% from the free throw line (16/16) and was 20/33 from the field. It was a double overtime game, but still a monster stat-line. Everyone wondered how would DeRozan and Aldrige share the midrange space on the court and shockingly Pop found a way for both to be over 20 a game, playing efficiently. His career high so far was 45, and this will be a night he remembers.
Pop third all time
With this win, Gregg Popovich passed Jerry Sloan on the all-time wins list. He now has 1,222 wins as a coach and next up is Lenny Wilkens with 1332. You can read more about the all-time list here.
Westbrook’s triple double
Westbrook’s stat hunting in his MVP season was egregious at times. The team did everything necessary to make him happy and stay with the team. They succeed, but I never perceived that as a remarkable achievement if it’s at the detriment of the team (which it was). If you have teammates running away from rebounds so you could get them, is it a triple-double?
Last night, Westbrook had a triple-double. Twenty-four points, 24 assists, and 13 rebounds. He is the only player in NBA history to put up such numbers and the only player before him to have 24 points, and 24 assists were Isiah Thomas.
P.S. Taking a team that has such a shooting night to double overtime tells you all you need to know about OKC. These guys are the leading contenders to the Warriors in the West right now.