The San Antonio Spurs are laughing at you. Yes, you.
You really doubted them in Game 6. Sure, Kawhi Leonard was out, and the two teams’ last game in this building resulted in a 21-point blowout loss. But you really trusted the Houston Rockets, after what they did last postseason? For San Antonio to end Houston’s season in Game 6 on Thursday in a completely uncompetitive 114-75 shellacking was quite possibly the most Spurs thing that could have happened. Like, damn, how are the Spurs always like this? You doubted them, and now they’re laughing at you.
Yes, you can replace “you” with “me.” I sure didn’t see this coming. Even San Antonio fans, upon hearing the Leonard news, couldn’t have had high hopes for this game. That seemed OK — they could survive dropping this one and take the series at home in Game 7. And instead, San Antonio bemusedly decided they would just end things on Thursday. It’s like they didn’t even give Houston a say in the matter.
The Rockets were miserable in Game 6, to be sure. James Harden looked adrift at sea, lost in a bizarre passiveness. It led to his final stat line of 10 points, 2-of-11 shooting, and six turnovers, with only two shot attempts in the first half.
Nene’s absence, lost in Game 4 with a groin injury, proved to be a much more enormous factor than San Antonio’s injuries. The Spurs constantly sagged off of Clint Capela, allowing him to shoot 11 times and nodding knowingly when he only made three of those shots. They were fine with his 9-of-14 free throw shooting, too, since Capela at the line slowed down Houston and was infinitely better than an open three-pointer. San Antonio left him open on shots Nene would have thrived on, and they thoroughly outrebounded the Rockets whenever they took Capela off the floor. It resulted in the Rockets shooting only 29 percent for the entire game.
It was classic San Antonio. Missing their best player, they collectively chipped in to make up for his absence. They executed a genius game plan with precision, one that left the Rockets bumbling around the court like they had just met each other. The Rockets attempted 40 three-pointers on Thursday, and usually that quantity of shots from deep feels like an artillery barrage. In Game 6, each shot oozed desperation, like the Rockets didn’t have any choice but to jack up a bunch of threes in a mission that was always bound to fail.
The Spurs eventually laugh at everyone. Don’t feel bad. This is their shtick, their modus operandi. They beat you thoroughly, precisely, like they had the whole thing calculated before it even began. You don’t see them laughing at you — no, no, that wouldn’t be very Spurs-y.
But you know they are.