Gregg Popovich has as much basketball knowledge in that head topped with short-cropped gray hair as anyone on the planet.
Even he is struggling to explain this wacky series.
Thursday night, after another blowout by the home team, a reporter asked Popovich how in the heck he explains five games, five shellackings in these Western Conference Finals. The Spurs coach sat and stared for a long moment.
“You’re serious?” he finally asked. “You really think I can explain that?”
The reporter kept after it.
Reporter: “In simplest terms.”
Reporter: “I know you can.”
“The question is, will you?”
“Good Lord. And they pay you, don’t they?”
“Thus the question. You’re not worth much.”
And that was that. A fun exchange. A good time was had by all, but there was still no answer to the question — how do you explain what is happening in this series? These were the two best teams in the entire NBA during the regular season, two heavyweights, and every time they’ve played in the past week or so, one of them has struggled to stay within two touchdowns of the other.
“It’s the craziest series I’ve ever been involved in,” said Tim Duncan, the most veteran of all the veteran Spurs. “The back and forth, the changes, the leads and the wins. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Craziest series ever? That’s saying something. Duncan and the Spurs have been involved in some doozies over the years. Legendary series. Memorable series.
But on the crazy scale, this one ranks at the top.
“It is pretty strange,” Spur super sub Manu Ginobili acknowledged. “I remember the Finals in ’05 against Detroit. We won both games here by 20, and we lost the first two over there by 20. Then, Game 5 went to overtime.”
In that series, the home team won five of the seven games as the Spurs claimed their third of four titles.
Even though it seems likely that Game 6 on Saturday night in Oklahoma City will be close — the Spurs seem to have figured out a way to solve their Serge problem — San Antonio’s role players have struggled on the road. Oklahoma City’s have been super at home. So, maybe another blowout is coming.
Who would bet against it?
At this point, the regular-season games that these two teams played against each other seem like they’re from a different realm of reality. Even though the Thunder won all four of them, two of the games were decided by six points – a mere two possessions – and the other two were 13- and 12-point wins.
Those would qualify as nailbiters in this series.
“You really can’t explain it,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of the way this series has gone, “because both teams are really good and both teams compete.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that the Thunder found itself locked in a couple series that were crazy for entirely different reasons. Remember that Memphis series when the Thunder and Grizzlies played four consecutive overtime games? Or the Los Angeles series when no fourth-quarter lead was safe, no matter how big?
Those days seem long ago and far away.
Almost makes you long for the heartburn and the indigestion of those series, doesn’t it, Thunder fans?
How is it possible that the Thunder went from a 35-point loser in Game 2 to a nine-point winner in Game 3, though its lead was much larger than that late, and from a 13-point winner in Game 4 to a 28-point loser in Game 5?
“Every game, it’s a different animal,” Popovich said. “It really is. We talk to our team about that all the time — you have no clue what’s going to happen, how a team is going to come out, whether they’re going to be lethargic or hold the ball, don’t hold the ball, get 50-50 balls or don’t get 50-50 balls.
“There are plays, there are calls, there are runs that happen that make momentum stop or get extended. And then a lot of it has got to do with players making shots on a certain night, and it can go in either direction.”
This series is so crazy that the wackiness has become routine. One team goes from looking like a world beater to getting their brains beat in, and everyone shrugs.
You know what would be really crazy in Game 6? A close game decided in the final minute or two.
In this series, that would be inexplicable.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.