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The night the Spurs forgot they were the Spurs

We have that and more in Sunday’s NBA newsletter.

In Friday’s newsletter, I gave two reasons the Spurs are always good: the game plan is always suited to the players available regardess of trends, and the players always know exactly what to do. How ironic that the Spurs’ last gasp of the season would be defined by the Spurs’ players not knowing exactly what to do.

Well, the Spurs’ players had no idea what to do with 20 seconds left, down four without the ball. Despite the entire bench telling the team to foul, the Spurs did not. The Nuggets basically ran out the clock to ice the game and series. The Spurs did something in the final seconds of a Game 7 that you’d expect from, I don’t know, the Suns in preseason. It’s completely out of character and frankly bizarre.

Apparently, LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t hear the coaches screaming at him to foul because the arena was so loud. Apparently, none of the other Spurs heard either. And apparently none of these players — most quite experienced — realized the clock and score situation demanded that they foul to have a shot.

The upshot is that the Nuggets likely would have won anyway: Denver led the entire game, the Spurs were cold and needed at least two shots to fall and for the Nuggets to miss free throws. The odds were not in their favor once Torrey Craig blocked a DeMar DeRozan layup with 28 seconds left. But that would have been the normal way to lose a Game 7. Not this. Yikes.

The next question is whether Gregg Popovich is coming back next season.


Sixers 95, Raptors 108
Toronto leads 1-0

Spurs 86, Nuggets 90
Denver wins series 4-3


Celtics at Bucks, 1 ET, ABC
Series tied 0-0

Rockets at Warriors, 3:30 ET, ABC
Series tied 0-0

Nuggets-Blazers Game 1 is coming Monday night.


Paul Flannery previews Bucks vs. Celtics in Shootaround. This is going to be a fun series.

Thorough dismantling of the Sixers by Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and the Raptors in Game 1. THOROUGH. Kawhi was unstoppable, Siakam was a chaos agent, and Toronto has so many defenders that sometimes the Sixers didn’t seem to have any good options. Andrew Sharp on Kawhi’s game. I’ve written a couple of times that Kawhi could still be the best player in the world, and I truly believe it.


Great piece on Nikola Jokic from Adam Mares at Denver Stiffs.

Uh, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are questionable for Game 1. Klay’s ankle is apparently in pretty bad shape.

The L.A. Sparks have both Ogwumikes now!

And finally: the great Bob Ryan on the great John Havlicek.

Be excellent to each other.

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