Coming into the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors on Monday, a depleted San Antonio Spurs squad looked like it had a chance to pull an upset as the Spurs were down 90-87 with 9:15 remaining.
Then a young developing star by the name of Stephen Curry would catch fire by putting up 11 points in a stretch of four minutes as the Warriors went on a 19-0 run to put themselves ahead by 20 points, and the result ended up being a 116-106 loss for the Spurs.
Curry finished the night with 35 points and seven-made 3-pointers, while Gary Neal (25 points) and Patty Mills (23 points) did what they could to carry a Spurs team minus Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and Boris Diaw. But, missing their star power, the Spurs just couldn’t keep up with the Warriors in the fourth when Golden State had its explosion.
Considering it was a back-to-back game after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers the night before, the Spurs’ offense finally looked like it found some cohesion as the team was able to score 27 or more points in all but the third quarter.
The defense on the other hand was missing Duncan’s post presence as the team allowed the Warriors to shoot 54% in the game and score 27 or more points in every quarter.
Neal kept the Spurs in the game in the first half as he went into halftime with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He was knocking down his outside jumpers, driving into the paint and hitting his tear drop, and even stopping mid dribble, pump faking his defender and sinking jumpers when they leapt up. One positive of the night was Neal looking spry and quick in both his dribble penetration and movement without the ball on offense.
Mills had 10 points by the half and scored 13 more in the second half. He too was able to spread apart the defense and knock down several jumpers, while also getting a few layups in the paint.
Also among the Spurs’ role players who were productive were DeJuan Blair with 14 points, Matt Bonner (13 points), Cory Joseph (10 points, 8 assists), and Nando De Colo (9 points, 9 assists).
Considering they hadn’t played often together with the squad used Monday night, the Spurs only turned the ball over 15 times. The Warriors on the other hand allowed the Spurs to stay close before the fourth quarter because of their 21 turnovers.
Even though it was a loss, the Spurs looked to be playing focused and with more energy Monday as the team managed to put over 100 points on the scoreboard and avoided being blown out.
During the game, the Oklahoma City Thunder wrapped up the number one seed in the Western Conference as they defeated the Sacramento Kings. Despite their loss, the Spurs, who moved to 58-23 on the season, won’t finish no worse than the second seed regardless if they win or lose in their regular season finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday.
What will be interesting about Wednesday won’t necessarily be the game taking place in San Antonio, but instead the games taking place elsewhere as the Spurs will have to wait to see who they will face in the playoffs.
As the standings stand, the Warriors are the sixth seed, the Houston Rockets are the seventh seed, and the Lakers are the eight seed, with the Utah Jazz one game behind them. The Lakers and Rockets will play each other on Wednesday while the Jazz will face the Memphis Grizzlies that same night.
There’s a chance the Spurs could potentially face the Warriors, Rockets, or Lakers in a two vs. seven matchup. Check Dan McCarney’s breakdown on how the seventh seed could potentially situate itself for more details.
For the Spurs, Monday’s loss to the Warriors meant they will finish their final seven road games without a win. It’ll be interesting to see who head coach Gregg Popovich elects to play on Wednesday, and what will even be a bigger decision for Popovich will be the decision to allow Ginobili to play a few minutes against the Timberwolves, or just hold him out until the weekend when the playoffs really begin.
Whichever way Wednesday ends, the Spurs might feel a little satisfied knowing their bench players, at least for one night Monday, were able to find their confidence in shooting and scoring the basketball. Something they had been lacking for quite a while when their stars had gone down with injury.