Just a quick Friday Musings for you as we begin the first weekend action of the conference finals portion of the playoffs. Last night the Golden State Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 114-111, in game 2 of the western conference finals. It was a really fun game that had a great first half from the Blazers, a classic 3rd quarter run from the Warriors and a tight finish down the stretch. It got me thinking about some of the conference finals games I have been lucky enough to see in person. Growing up in San Antonio during the Tim Duncan era, I have been fortunate to have multiple opportunities to see live games at the NBA’s final four. Here are my five favorites…
5. 2017 WCF, Game 4, Golden State Warriors @ San Antonio Spurs
This game wasn’t a classic, as Kawhi Leonard had been out since game 1, but it is always cool to see a team punch their ticket to the Finals. Especially when that team is in the midst of an historic postseason.
4. 2001 WCF, Game 2, Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs
Here is another team in the midst of an historic postseason run, as the ’01 Lakers demolished the Spurs in this game on their way to their second consecutive title. This game was tense, with the Spurs knowing they had to win after dropping game 1 at home. Tim Duncan was brilliant with 40 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, but it wasn’t enough as a couple of late buckets from Kobe Bryant sealed the win for L.A.
3. 2013 WCF, Game 2, Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs
This series ended up being a sweep, but game 2 was the closest game of the series as the Spurs took a 2-0 lead thanks to an incredibly balanced attack from their starters.
2. 2008 WCF, Game 3, Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs
This series ended up being a five gamer but the anticipation coming in was palpable. It was the defending champs against a new look Lakers team now boasting Pau Gasol. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s annoyance at the fact that the Lakers had landed Pau for what seemed like so little was quite strong. Game 3 wound up being the only Spurs win in the series, as the Lakers advanced to the Finals, where they lost to the Boston Celtics.
1. 2012 WCF, Game 4, San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder
I drove from College Station, Texas to Oklahoma City for this game with my roommate at the time, Gabe. I skipped my cousin’s wedding in Dallas for this game and I do not regret that one bit. This was not my first time to see a Thunder game in OKC; I was there for their regular season game against the Miami Heat earlier that spring. However, the building’s noise level was on another level from anything I had experienced. Spurs fans can definitely get loud, but the non-stop consistency of the OKC fans was spectacular. The banter between Thunder fans and Gabe and I was cordial throughout, although it probably helped that OKC came out with a win to even the series. In the fourth quarter it felt like the Thunder ran the same play 15 times in a row, always with the goal of getting Kevin Durant the ball near the middle of the free throw line. KD was brilliant no matter who was guarding him, finishing with 36 points including 18 in the fourth quarter to seal the OKC win.
That’s all for this week, enjoy the basketball everyone!