“We remember what happened last year and how it felt in that locker room. We used it and built on it. And got back here. It’s amazing. It makes last year okay.” — Tim Duncan, after game 5 in 2014
I said on Technical Foul last year that the championship wouldn’t mean as much to Kevin Durant if he won in Oakland instead of Oklahoma City. But there’s something I didn’t realize until these playoffs: maybe it’s not going to mean quite as much to the rest of the Warriors either, compared to if they had won without Durant. Compared to if they had come back with the same team again, as the Spurs had done in 2014 after letting the series slip away the year before.
Kevin Durant was the obvious finals MVP tonight. He was the reason — with help from Zaza Pachulia taking out Kawhi Leonard — that the Warriors coasted through the first few rounds of the playoffs. He was the reason that LeBron James could average a triple double for the finals and it still wasn’t enough.
It was a good NBA regular season. It was a good last few games of the finals. But the playoffs were disappointing to many people because it didn’t look like the Warriors were going to have to work very hard to win. It wasn’t the comeback story it would’ve been without Durant. I’m hoping next year will be different.
538 started a nice series on the case for each of the top 5 MVP candidates. But my favorite MVP article is Matt Bonner’s sandwich analogy for The Players Tribune:
You’re probably getting hungry as you’re reading this, and maybe you’re even thinking about making a sandwich of your own. And that’s smart. Your head’s in the right place. Those ingredients sound really good. The fixings are crucial — and you can’t have your best possible sandwich without them.
It’s not all jokes, though. Matt’s insight into the Spurs system, where you move the ball instead of hogging it, puts Kawhi’s 25.7-point average in perspective:
And since there’s so little ball domination in that system … it makes it pretty impossible for any one player to put up a huge scoring average. Even Tim Duncan — arguably the greatest power forward to ever play the game — never had a season in which he averaged 25.7. And that’s really all you need to know.
Last night, the Spurs lost in Portland by 1 point. It was a game that didn’t matter much, so the Spurs bench finished the game. Portland’s win was mostly a fluke — a Spurs turnover at the end, then a steal that was mishandled and fell to Blazers’ Noah Vonleh for the buzzer-beater layup. But here’s the important point: the Spurs probably wouldn’t have lost if Kawhi was in the game for the final minute.
That’s not to take anything away from the bench. Those guys are great. Living in Austin, we got to watch Kyle Anderson and Jonathan Simmons finish plenty of great games for the D-League. It’s just that San Antonio has played many close games this season, and this is what happens when Kawhi is in the game late.
I’ll be shocked if Russell Westbrook doesn’t win MVP this year. But any of the top 5 candidates deserve it, and Kawhi is focused on other things. Maybe it’s fitting that the award will end up going to a player like Westbrook and his fans who seem to care so much about whether he wins.
I’m watching Spain vs. France basketball right now, and later today is Argentina vs. the United States. No question the United States are the favorites for gold, but there are some really good teams, most with great NBA players.
From the double-overtime win by Argentina a few days ago, to Boris Diaw sipping an espresso in his room, I’ve been more engaged in following basketball at the Olympics than usual. And I love that so many Spurs players are everywhere.
Spain has Pau Gasol; Argentina has Manu Ginobili, who helped defeat the United States in 2004; Australia has Patty Mills; and France has Tony Parker. Gives me something to root for throughout the tournament.
I somehow recorded 4 podcast episodes this week. We just published episode 233 of Core Intuition, where Daniel Jalkut and I talk about the announcements from Google I/O and compare the latest Swift 3 news to our experience going through previous Apple transitions. From the show notes:
“Manton and Daniel react to Google’s I/O keynote, and weigh the threat of Allo to iMessage. They celebrate Apple’s WWDC promotion of 3rd party events, and the increasing speed of App Store reviews. Finally, they reflect on the announced delay in Swift 3’s planned ABI stability, and Daniel’s sudden FUD about embracing Swift.”
It was a big week for the NBA, too, with the first couple games of the east and west conference finals. On the latest Technical Foul, Ben Thompson and I recap round 2, especially the Spurs loss in 6 games to the Thunder:
Ben and Manton are back geeking out about the NBA. This week we talk Manton through the Spurs loss, discuss OKC versus the Warriors, and whether the Cavs are good enough.
And finally, I published 2 episodes of my microcast Timetable earlier in the week. Episode 22 was about dealing with recent stress — trying to see the bigger picture and focus on the good things. Episode 23 was about how to tell when it’s time to move on from a failed product.
It used to be that I would stay up until midnight working in Xcode. This year, it’s more likely that I’ll stay up until midnight watching late NBA games played on the west coast. I’ve loved this season, from Golden State’s record wins to being able to visit San Antonio a few times to catch Spurs games.
So why not do a basketball podcast? Today, Ben Thompson and I released the first episode of TECHnical Foul. From the show notes:
Welcome to the first episode of the TECHnical Foul, in which two wildly unqualified tech geeks geek out about the NBA. In this episode we debate 96 Bulls vs the 16 Warriors, Kobe’s final game, what makes the Spurs great, whether the Spurs can beat the Warriors, and a quick overview of the first round.
We had a lot of fun recording this. If you’re a basketball fan, or just need some variety in your podcast subscriptions, I hope you enjoy it.
I like what ESPN is doing in the sidebar on their NBA scores page. It’s a timeline of both tweets and short ESPN posts, integrated together with a clean design that fits the rest of the site.
This timeline is a great use of microblogging. The short posts aren’t limited to tweet-length — they’re often around 200 characters instead — so they can feel complete and informative while still being concise. I’ve suggested 280 characters as a guideline for microblogs, and having the extra characters to work with really makes a nice difference.
I took an example screenshot from ESPN and included it to the right of this post. The first two posts are these special ESPN microblog posts, and the third is a tweet. I don’t know what CMS-like system is driving this, but you can imagine using WordPress post formats, custom fields, or categories to achieve something similar.
I’ve always said the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are ginormous. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, San Antonio Spurs player Matt Bonner speculates that reaching his fingers across that screen contributed to an elbow injury:
“‘Everybody is going to find this hilarious, but here’s my theory on how I got it,’ he said. ‘When the new iPhone came out it was way bigger than the last one, and I think because I got that new phone it was a strain to use it, you have to stretch further to hit the buttons, and I honestly think that’s how I ended up developing it.’”
Bring on the iPhone 6C in a 4-inch plastic design. The current phones are dangerously too big.
I’ve been watching a lot of NBA games this season. I’ve caught well over half of the Spurs’s 82 games so far alone, on TV and SiriusXM in the car (and a few in person in San Antonio). I’m not sure how far they’ll make it, but you can’t argue with the greatness of this team over so many years.
The NBA has some records that just seem unbreakable. Either because the rules or style of play have evolved in the modern era, or because the records were insane at the time, these are feats we may not see again. Here are 10 such records, from Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game to the Laker’s 33-game winning streak to Bill Russell’s 11 championships. The Spurs’s 16-year streak of 50-win seasons is approaching this category of success as well.
That’s kind of how I view John Siracusa’s series of Mac OS X reviews on Ars Technica. There have been other excellent reviews about Mac OS X over the years, but the depth and consistency of John’s reviews may always stand apart. If you’re starting today and want to top it, you will have to work for the next 15 years just to be competitive at all.
Congratulations John on a great run. Nothing seems to last forever on the internet — web sites fade away, and some obscure technology isn’t well-covered to begin with — so it’s nice to know that these Mac OS X reviews are at a stable site where we’ll be able to reference them for years to come.