AT&T Center – “ We knew we could come back,” said San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw early Tuesday morning, after the Spurs had made a remarkable comeback from down 18-points to defeat the Golden State Warriors 129-127 in double overtime. “We knew it would just take some stops, which we were actually trying to get the whole game.”
A handful of Spurs players mentioned that they just needed to keep fighting and making stops, and an eventual come back would be possible.
If you talked to Warriors guard Stephen Curry, he too is confident as are his teammates that the Warriors can still steal a game in San Antonio.
“We know how to come back because we have been a resilient team all year,” said Curry postgame of his Warriors. “We just have to turn it back on and be ready for Game 2.”
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich evaluated game one quite simply, saying “It was anybody’s game that’s for sure.”
Though just a few words, Popovich’s quote says so much for both teams. After all, Warriors guard Klay Thompson said this after the game, “We are good enough to beat this team.”
Game one was literally a missed Manu Ginobili or Danny Green 3-pointer from putting the Warriors in the driver’s seat and while the Spurs did come out rusty and have some absent defensive quarters, they rejuvenated themselves in the fourth and overtimes.
Here are a few areas both teams can look to as advantages going into game two.
The defense had its moments
The Warriors did shoot 51% in the game and put up a 28 and 39-point quarter, but in the second (25) and fourth quarter (14), the Spurs can be confident in knowing they can put together good defensive stretches. The fourth quarter in particular comes with Kawhi Leonard defending Curry and the Spurs also using different defensive schemes toward Curry at times.
When you look at a lot of the Warriors shooting numbers, their key contributors actually took almost as many shots to score points. However, the same could almost be said for the Warriors defense as the Spurs too had a rough shooting day.
Duncan wasn’t healthy
As was observed in the fourth quarter, Tim Duncan left the game and went to the locker room. After the game, Coach Popovich said though Duncan tried to hide his flu-like symptoms, there was a point when he just had to get him out of the game. Ginobili said on one possession he just saw Duncan staring at the floor for a long time. Whether it’s in game two or another game in this series, if a sick Duncan was able to post 19 points and 11 rebounds, who knows what a healthy Duncan can do?
The Spurs did allow the Warriors to outscore them 52-42 in points the paint, but what will that look like with a healthy Duncan and maybe a returning Tiago Splitter in the near future?
Coach Popovich feared rust might creep up on his team prior to the game and until the fourth quarter, maybe it was part of his team’s struggles in scoring as they could barely score on certain possessions and shot 44% from the field.
The good part was that they shot 50% from 3-point range where they made 13 three pointers and though their half court struggles, they outscored the Warriors in transition 19-9. After getting a double-overtime game in their system, one wonders if the Spurs might have shaken off their rust.
Ginobili for one said he was not “shy” shooting the ball despite shooting 5-of-20 in the game.
The Warriors’ turnovers are a real deal
One other factor the Spurs can look forward to as this series continues is the Warriors turnover woes. The Warriors came into game one averaging 18.7 turnovers per game in the playoffs. In game one, they turned the ball over 21 times and the Spurs scored 21 points off of those turnovers.
Leonard on Curry
Lastly for the Spurs, after experimenting with different guard combinations and double-teams on Curry, Leonard looked like the one who had the biggest effect on Curry. Even after the game, Curry admitted that Leonard’s length made it more difficult to shoot over. He said he had to create space in order to get a shot over Leonard.
Klay Thompson’s advantage
In the first half, Thompson was a huge advantage for the Warriors as he clearly had the height advantage over Parker. Thompson ended the game with 19 points but ended up fouling out pretty early. After the game he called some of his fouls “dumb” and says he needs to make wiser decisions on defense. Thompson has the ability to make the Warriors perimeter a threat from all places as he can shoot, post and shoot jumpers, or attack the rim.
Curry can go off
As for Curry, he lit up the third quarter with his shooting display and it makes you wonder how effective he could have been in the fourth quarter and overtimes had he gotten just a bit of rest and not had to play 58 total minutes in the game. Curry clearly has an advantage shooting over any Spurs guard and when their big men switch on to him.
Another way he impacted the game so much was his passing ability. He finished with 11 assists because he exploited the Spurs’ double-teams by either finding open 3-point shooters or players slashing toward the rim.
What will be a challenge for Curry is what he’ll do if Leonard gets a majority of the minutes defending him as the series continues.
Making Tony Parker a defensive liability
In the first half, Curry, Thompson, and even Harrison Barnes made Parker look like a defensive liability. The Warriors continued to attack Parker so much that the Spurs had to start sending a help defender to his side, which in turn, the Warriors would find an open man on the opposite end of the floor.
Right now, the Spurs could be going into game two in a must win situation had they fallen Tuesday. But, as Popovich said, anyone could have won the game and so they are the team with the 1-0 lead.
Both coaches will make adjustments by Wednesday and it’ll be interesting to see if one team takes advantage of their adjustments, or if we’ll see another game go down to the wire and finishing on what one might call, a last shot, or luck.