With the athleticism and scoring ability that the Thunder possess, the Spurs know they have their hands full in the Western Conference finals. In order to win a seven-game series against Oklahoma City, San Antonio can’t try to run with them. Instead, they will have to use their depth to keep fresh legs on the court and try to get Kevin Durant and company into grind-it-out types of games. With that in mind, Gregg Popovich’s battle cry during the Spurs Game 1 victory makes perfect sense.
“I want some nasty!” Popovich could be heard saying during the broadcast.
Nasty he requested and nasty he received. Trailing by nine headed into the fourth quarter, the Spurs outscored the Thunder 39-27 down the stretch and held on for a 101-98 victory. Led by Manu Ginobli’s team-high 26 points, they finally began attacking the basket and holding Oklahoma City accountable on defense.
“I said that?” Popovich said after the game when asked about his new catch phrase. ”The heat of the game, stuff comes up. So I talked to them about they’ve got to get a little bit uglier, get a little more nasty, play with more fiber and take it to these guys. Meaning you have to drive it, you have to shoot it.”
It appears to have worked. Tony Parker said Pop is always finding ways to motivate the team, and the phrase was clearly nothing out of the ordinary for him. But for people like us, it’s great television. Everyone wants to see their team get nasty in the most critical situations of the season, and Popovich willed his team to do just that on Sunday night. If the Spurs plan to win four games against the Thunder, they’ll need a lot more nasty as the series moves on.
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