Good morning, Boston Celtics fans, and a glorious Sunday to each and everyone of you!
Well, I think we all kind of saw this coming: a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals, with the San Antonio Spurs set to clash with the Miami Heat yet again. San Antonio dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals last night, and did so without the services of Tony Parker in the second half, who left the game with a sore left ankle. That left the fate of the Spurs in the hands of Manu Ginobli and – who else? - Tim Duncan, who only knows how to do one thing: win.
The Spurs did it down the stretch without their starting point guard and best player Tony Parker, who was sidelined at halftime with a sore left ankle.
The Spurs did it against a Thunder team that probably had the two best individual talents in the series in Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
The Spurs did it with balance and patience and poise and trust and with a few of the usual tricks from Old Man Riverwalk, who at 38, is still pulling out those tried-and-true basic moves that keep working in every lunchtime game in every YMCA from sea-to-head-faking sea.
Duncan was 2-for-2 in the overtime with a pair of rebounds and scored the seven consecutive points that ultimately lifted the Spurs to the 112-107 victory over the Thunder and the Western Conference title.
As he’s done so often for 17 NBA seasons, Duncan was there to make the plays and do the heavy lifting at the end, which was particularly poignant in a year when the Spurs carried their burden.
It really is phenomenal what this guy has accomplished in the NBA. I hope he gets the chance to accomplish a little bit more in the NBA Finals.
How good is Tim Duncan? Guess I’ll let Earvin “Magic” Johnson do the talking:
The Spurs team led by the greatest PF ever, Tim Duncan, beat 2 superstars in Durant & Westbrook!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 1, 2014
Speaking of Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook: don’t feel too bad for them: according to this piece, these two superstars will be back, doing great things, soon:
“They’re a great team, they made a run, but that shows the character we have on this team to force that overtime and not give up,” said Durant, who ended his seventh season with 31 points, 14 rebounds and seven costly turnovers. “It’s easy to give up, but you can say that about any run throughout our game. They could have put us away to start the fourth quarter, but they didn’t.”
When it was all over, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (headed to his sixth Finals with the ageless and still magnificent Tim Duncan), hugged Durant and then Westbrook and looked each in the eye.
“We know we played one hell of a team, and we take great satisfaction in that because they are so special,” Popovich said. “They’ll certainly be back doing great things without any doubt.”
The alternative story line will be floated, that the window is closing on this core. Durant has two more seasons on his contract, and he could singlehandedly sink the franchise if he decides to uproot. But, just as he stated that “the grass is not always greener on the other side” during his impassioned MVP speech, Durant answered questions with pride for his team and optimism toward the future.
Finally, I leave you today with some Boston Celtics-related reading. Nope: it’s not about Kevin Love visiting the city of Boston. Instead, it’s about NBA prospect T.J. Warren, who impressed me toward the end of this season and is determined to prove that he will have a long, successful NBA career ahead of him.