Well, the Western Conference Finals sure are off to a rock and roll start! We’ve got plenty of analysis coming your way, but given the sheer amount of coverage of this crazy game, we thought you all might appreciate some links to help you navigate the information overload. As usual, there are no “data links,” so if you see something highlighted, it links to an actual germane article and not that player’s or team’s stats page — so click through!
Here’s a San Antonio local writer’s recap that I especially liked and, of course, Anthony Slater’s. Also, in case you missed it, Slater’s extended article on the relationship between Gregg Popovich and Mike Brown is one of the best things I read all weekend.
Analysis and reaction:
First up, let’s just briefly touch on what everyone seemingly wants to talk about — Kawhi Leonard’s injury. Leonard had a monster game — 26 points in 24 minutes — and he looked like he was going to sabotage my prediction of a sweep in the very first game of the series.
Unfortunately, Leonard’s ankle was not able to make it through this game unscathed. He first re-aggravated the injury when he stepped on David Lee’s foot. Lee was sitting on the bench and Leonard just planted his foot on top of Lee’s while turning to run back up the court. Leonard came out of the game, but argued his way back onto the court.
And then this happened.
Damn. All the way over. I’m no medical expert, but through decades of skateboarding and basketball, I am no stranger to ankle injuries. Right now, Leonard has a “glass ankle.” This means every little ankle roll is going to be a big deal for the next month or two. He’s currently listed as out for Game 2, and we will see what happens beyond that. Apparently, good basketball and no injuries was too much to ask for from the basketball gods.
The internet, predictably, did not react well. The vitriol got so bad that Zaza Pachulia disabled comments on his public media after getting threats against his family.
As per Anthony Slater, you can see Leonard doesn’t seem to think anything was amiss with the play
Kawhi Leonard postgame on the ankle injury, the Pachulia play and more, says he doesn't think it was intentional pic.twitter.com/iOTsGaG3Mb— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 15, 2017
But that didn’t stop the salt storm that erupted as both sides got a bit punchy. Here at GSoM, it prompted an usual staff announcement in the post game article comments, reminding folks that picking comments from other blogs and posting them here is not acceptable. As usual, Sleepy Freud summed it up more eloquently than I ever could:
“…serious leeway and compassion for those guys is in order, as they just went through the ultimate triple or quadruple whammy of sports trauma:
“(1) blowing a playoff game they had 99.9% salted away (remember how our site melted down after that meaningless regular-season collapse v. Memphis?);
“(2) losing their one indispensable player to injury;
“(3) seeing that the injury was partially caused, inadvertently or not, by a clumsy player whom they already considered a goon;
“(4) realizing that the injury could be serious enough to sideline or at least slow him for at least another week or two;
“(5) realizing, after being filled with total elation for the 2.5 quarters, that "another week or two" is now most likely the end of their season. (And possibly the end of the line for the incomparable Manu Ginobili). Just the ultimate harsh toke.”
So please, try and be compassionate and patient. We came into this series knowing that Spurs fans, are among the nicest, most well-respected fan bases in the NBA. That hasn’t changed. Don’t let the loudest voices draw you into an argument, and PLEASE let people freak out. If you can’t irrationally react on the internet, then we may as well just delete everything except for cat videos.
OK, this has been too wordy for a links post, so here is a dump of all the other content I thought bears consideration:
- Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant had amazing performances. There’s only so much room to talk about story lines after a game like this, but they really are being overlooked.
- Mercury News podcast. Recorded after the game, it does a good job of summarizing the reactions and takeaways from Sunday.
- Coach Popovich continues to impress me with his willingness to take down megalomaniacs and our corporate overlords.
gregg popovich is and will always be a wonderful human pic.twitter.com/zDPTVeTDvs— Whitney Medworth (@its_whitney) May 14, 2017
- Reddit user MIACannons dug back into that famous video of Stephen Curry non-calls to find a couple of similar sequences to the play that took Leonard out of the game.
Perspective brings empathy. This really sucks. I hope we can all be a little extra understanding when people call Pachulia dirty. These plays happen – but they also piss off fans.
- A bunch of good quotes from various players on the Leonard injury here.
Kevin Durant came to his teammate’s defense, saying after the game, “Zaza's not a dirty player.”
“You've got to time that perfectly if you want to hurt somebody,” Durant said during his postgame press conference. “We're not that type of team. You can't listen to people on Twitter. They're irrational.”
Speaking of that ankle, there’s an MRI scheduled for today, but given how tight-lipped the Spurs organization is on stuff like this, don’t expect to learn much unless it’s so serious that they shut him down. (My totally non-expert guess is that he’ll be back for Game 3.)
- On a lighter note, this synchronized complaint and body language from the Curry, Pachulia and Draymond Green is pretty amazing. I love a gif that loops perfectly like this.
- Kawhi’s injury was the talk of the internet, but he’s not the only who will be getting an MRI today. Wily veteran Andre Iguodala was held to just 10 minutes, and as per Marcus Thompson, this issue will linger, regardless of the MRI results.
“He spent much of the third quarter at the end of the bench and away from the team, raising concerns he was at odds with Brown’s decision. But in the fourth quarter, he turned into an unofficial assistant coach, barking out directions and chiming in during the huddle.
“Iguodala said the trainer’s told him he was out. He didn’t disagree with the decision even though he’s played through stuff before.
“Iguodala, known for being meticulously in tune with his body, has had past knee injuries and said he recognizes this feeling. He said it might be more than just normal soreness. He too is waiting for the MRI results to rule out a tear or a bad sprain.”
- Also, if you care, Celtics-Wizards play Game 7 tonight, 5pm on TNT.
That’s it for me. It’s my birthday so I’m off to ride my motorcycle around the hills aimlessly like Mike Brown and then headed into SF for some frisbee golf. Keep those links coming if you find anything worth sharing!