The intensity and focus that has the Spurs rolling 3-0 over Portland in the Western Conference semifinals can be traced to their Game 3 loss to Dallas in the first round.
Vince Carter hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Mavericks went up 2-1. But San Antonio simply was not going to concede the opening round after last season’s disappointing Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat for the NBA title.
“Down 2-1, Dallas really made it a series. They played great basketball — everybody was playing very well on that team and they made it hard on us,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “In Game 7 you have to show up because if you don’t the season’s over. I think we learned from it and so far, we’re playing good.”
Boris Diaw also pointed to the Dallas series, which San Antonio won with a 119-96 victory in the deciding Game 7.
“We had our back against the wall and we had to play good,” he said. “We’ve been playing the same way since then — so probably a turning point for us.” Associated Press
Basketball is weird. The Spurs did not lose in the month of March, and then struggled to defeat the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. Somehow this was parlayed into three consecutive beatdowns of the Portland Trailblazers who now have the confidence of a junior varsity squad. Most of this can be reasonably explained by match up issues, but it’s mind boggling how dominant certain teams can be when the right circumstances line up.
The Spurs will advance to the Western Conference Finals. The only question now is will they play the emotional Los Angeles Clippers or the enigmatic Oklahoma City Thunder. – AL