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Berry Tramel: OKC Thunder should avoid the Spurs

NBA: After San Antonio carved up OKC, Thunder should hope they don't see the Spurs in the playoffs.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 16, 2012

Manu Ginobili didn't even suit up for the Spurs, and just-acquired Stephen Jackson didn't even show up at Chesapeake Arena.

And with 3½ minutes left in the first half of a game with all kinds of playoff implications, the Thunder trailed by 27 points Friday night.

Suddenly, the Western Conference seedings didn't seem so important anymore.

The Thunder had a new playoff assignment: avoid San Antonio. Avoid the Spurs at all cost.

Bring on the Grizzlies. Bring on the Lakers or the Clippers or a combined LA all-star team. Bring on the Heat or the Bulls. Bring on the Jordan Bulls.

Anything but a series against these surgeons dressed in black, who carved up the Thunder before holding on for a 114-105 victory

This was the kind of game that can plant doubt and confusion. Doubt that the Thunder could beat the Spurs in a seven-game series, even if Oklahoma City gets homecourt advantage.

“They've been around forever, and they still do it at a very high level,” Scotty Brooks said of the Spurs.

San Antone coach Gregg Popovich never has cared too much about the regular season.

The Thunder started the night four games ahead of the Spurs atop the Western Conference, so the lead would be either three or five, with two-thirds of the season behind us.

But after this whipping, after the Spurs led 63-36 in the second quarter and were shooting over 60 percent into the third quarter, who cares about homecourt advantage?

Hard to picture the Thunder with an advantage of any kind in a series with San Antonio.

Popovich said he's never worried much about playoff seeding. Over 15 years, his Spurs have won and lost when they were top-seeded, and won and lost when they didn't have homecourt advantage.

“It's more what kind of a rhythm you have going into the playoffs,” Pop said. How much trust teammates have built. How healthy they are.

Uh-oh, for the Thunder. We're still five weeks from the playoffs, so there's time for the Boomers to play their way out of the malaise that's afflicted them for two weeks.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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