A comprehensive, second-by-second breakdown of the final Thunder/Spurs possession
I mean … Holy. Crap.
Even if the last 13.5 seconds of the contest between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night didn’t happen, it still would have gone down as one of if not the most entertaining game(s) of the playoffs thus far.
Westbrook vs. The World. Durant slinging daggers like he was auditioning for the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel. The Spurs making several of their patented death machine runs when down double-digits only to be fought back at the brink. Game 2 had it all….
However, the last 13.5 seconds did happen – and no matter what your stance is on who was at fault and/or who should have been penalized, I think we can all agree that it was absolute pandemonium.
Let’s go frame-by-frame and try to sort out this madness…
13.5 Seconds Left:
The catalyst of the basketball Armageddon that soon ensued.
Before the replay, this is all our naked eyes saw — a blatant shove by OKC’s inbounder, Dion Waiters, into the chest of the opposing Manu Ginobili in what was an unfathomable, unprecedented move that even the refs admitted to never seeing before.
Statement from lead official Ken Mauer: pic.twitter.com/jFq7p5SYnR
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) May 3, 2016
Also, can we please take a second to talk about..
1) How the ref was looking at nothing other than shove and elected to put his whistle in his pocket?
2) Billy Donovan thought of ALL the players on the roster it was a good idea for DION WAITERS to inbound the ball??? This is the NBA equivalent of being down to your last casino chip at the craps table and putting it on snake eyes in hopes of making back all your losses in one roll. There is a time and place for this type of risk/reward, but, not when you are protecting a one-point lead in the most important game of your season.
In addition to Waiters’ physical act, a simple "One Mississippi, Two Mississippi…" count suggests that the Thunder should have been assessed a five-second violation and possession awarded to San Antonio
— Rob Perez (@BungalowLine) May 3, 2016
However, after further review: it appears both sides were at fault.
First, Ginobili was not only violating the "the defender must give the inbounder three feet of free air space" rule, he was figuratively and literally stepping over the line.
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
Second, Kawhi Leonard committed a blatant hold of Russell Westbrook’s jersey before an inbounds pass was complete, which could have been assessed as an "away from the ball" foul – and since there were less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Thunder had a legitimate gripe that they were not awarded two shots and possession.
For arguments sake, let’s call this a wash. Two infractions by the Thunder, two by the Spurs. Just like football – these penalties offset, but they didn’t redo the down … they just kept playing…
12 Seconds Left:
Now that we’ve got the initial inbounds somewhat sorted out – the game clock started a full second before hitting Kevin Durant’s hands!
Just to add to the madness, one full second clearly comes off clock before the ball touches Durant's hands. pic.twitter.com/CEdOkTdcfd
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) May 3, 2016
WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON HERE!?!?!? Not like that second was vital for later on or anything.
Anyways, at this point: you figure the Thunder just HAVE to come up with this loose ball which was ultimately a Durant/Adams vs. Danny Green 2-on-1 handicap match.
11 Seconds Left:
With his momentum full-steam-ahead in the other direction, Adams is caught in no-man’s land as the last line of defense when Green retrieves the loose ball. Will Popovich call his final timeout to set up one last pre-planned play? NOPE, here comes the Spurs! Prepare for delirium.
10 Seconds Left:
A 3-on-2 (1.5?) develops as Green lobs the ball to Patty Mills who, like a sorcerer, has magically appeared under the hoop for the game-winning layup!
9 Seconds Left:
Not so fast my friends. Instead of throwing a frozen rope to his streaking teammate, Danny tosses a limp noodle – and by the time it reaches Patty Mills’ hands, Steven Adams is lining up to swat the doomed layup attempt across the Rio Grande.
8 Seconds Left:
Mills smartly refrains from attempting a layup with the locked in, shot-blocking defender closing in and dishes to Manu at the apex of the base/end line. Now what?
7 Seconds Left:
Manu escapes the coffin corner. That is A LOT of open real estate in front of him. Pull up or challenge Adams and Ibaka at the rim?
6 Seconds Left:
"OH BABY" — AND 1 Mixtape emcee voice.
Ginobili attacks the rim, attracts the entire Thunder defense, and just casually goes no-look BEHIND-THE-HEAD to a now wide-open Patty Mills standing in the corner for what will surely be the game-winning jumper.
5 Seconds left:
THIS IS IT.
4.5 Seconds Left:
Ah, yes, I may have forgotten to mention that Steven Adams is seven feet tall and Patty Mills is maybe 6’0" on a good day.
A-squared + B-squared = C-there was absolutely no way Mills was cleanly getting that attempt over the wingspan of Adams.
3.2 Seconds Left:
As the shot attempt flutters back down to Earth: Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard await its presence.
It’s definitely not #1, but, how Kawhi didn’t come up with this rebound (important note: he is KAWHI) will go down as one of the top "WTF????" moments in recent Spurs playoff history alongside Ray Allen’s three-pointer and Tim Duncan’s blown layup at the rim from the 2013 Finals in Miami.
Also, do you notice how Steven Adams and Patty Mills are like … no longer on the screen?
2 Seconds Left:
Mayhem ensues under the rim for what is no longer a rebound, but, a loose ball.
It appears Steven Adams is being restrained by something, what could it possibly be?
No, that’s not The Undertaker’s hand spawning from beneath the dirt to choke Kane — it’s a courtside fan who likely took a massive body check from Steven Adams during the defense of Mills’ shot attempt, and was either clinging to Adams as she fell or was using him as a hand rail to regain her balance.
Needless to say, Steven was NOT pleased.
1 Second Left:
Kawhi and LaMarcus continue to struggle to obtain possession. Time is running out.
0 Seconds Left:
Game Over. Serge Ibaka wins the scrum for the loose basketball, the Thunder prevail, and Steven Adams looks like he is about to tomahawk the fan who held onto him through the roof.
What we learned from Game 2 at the AT&T Center:
1) The Spurs may have the better basketball "team," but, the Thunder have two of the best four basketball players in the world and you’re damn right "star power" can supersede "team play" at times.
2) When it comes to end-of-game X’s and O’s, Billy Donovan and Scott Brooks have way too much in common.
3) Popovich might trust his team a little TOO much
4) Steven Adams is very scary.
5) When the refs panic and/or are put in an overly subjective spot, they’re just gonna let things play out – and you know what? It’s kind of refreshing.
6) Nevermind, I miss Joey Crawford during moments like this
7) Manu Ginobili still got it.
8) Never let Dion Waiters do anything important.
9) Read #8 again.
10) Remember that 30+ point blowout in Game 1? Yeah, neither do I.
Coach Pop your thoughts on the game’s final moments? Please blink if you are OK with what transpired.