AT&T CENTER – After trailing by as many as 19 points in the third quarter with 10:31 minutes left in the third quarter, the Golden State Warriors, who were on the second night of a back-to-back, were able to bring the Spurs’ lead down to seven points with 4:30 minutes remaining in the third. In what they’ve been doing for a majority of their current 19-game winning streak, the Spurs ended the third on a 13-0 run to take a 20-point lead into the fourth, on their way to a 111-90 rout of the Warriors.
Led by Tony Parker’s 18 points, six players scored in double-figures for San Antonio, while the team assisted on 66% of their made baskets in the win. The Warriors, it should be noted, were without three of their key players in David Lee, Andrew Bogut, and Andre Iguodala. Here were a few keys to the Spurs’ 59th victory of the season, as San Antonio locked up another Southwest Division title for the 20th time in franchise history, and 11th in the Tim Duncan era.
Despite missing the long ball, the machine continued to roll on
The Spurs were able to score 111 points, and put together two 30-point quarters, despite shooting 4-of-19 from beyond the arc on the night. How was this done? With ball movement, as the team collected 29 assists, 11 of those being secondary assists, and scoring from inside the paint, as San Antonio outscored the Warriors 52-42 in the paint. Another area was the free throw line, as the Spurs made 19 of their 22 free throws.
Two players who really had their way with the Warriors’ defense were Parker and Duncan. Parker finished the night with 18 points and eight assists in 28 minutes despite having both Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes defend him at different times throughout the night. Duncan, who only had Marreese Speights and Draymond Green trying to stop him for the majority of the night, had his way in the paint on his way to 15 points and eight rebounds. Duncan shot 5-of-7 on contested looks, and 2-of-4 on uncontested looks. Duncan produced all of these numbers in just three quarters of play, as he only played 20 minutes on the night.
After the Indiana Pacers held the Spurs to just 18 assists on Monday, the ball movement was flowing Wednesday as four Spurs players touched the ball 40 or more times, while three others also touched the ball 38 times on the night. Six players on the Spurs’ team threw 30 or more passes on the night. Almost half (47%) of the Spurs’ shots were uncontested, as the team shot 49% on those uncontested looks and 57% on the contested shots. From the floor, the Spurs finished shooting 53% from the field.
Along with Parker and Duncan scoring in double-figures, Manu Ginobili scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds, and threw five assists off the bench, while Patty Mills also scored 13 points off the bench too. Marco Belinelli tallied 12 points and Kawhi Leonard scored 11 points and collected four steals. Check out the Spurs’ scoring by quarter numbers (over 5 points):
1Q: Duncan 12 points, Parker 6 points, Ginobili 5 points
2Q: Belinelli 8 points
3Q: Parker 8 points, Boris Diaw 6 points
4Q: Jeff Ayres 9 points, Mills 8 points
“They’re playing amazing right now,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry of the Spurs after the game. “Best team in the league right now, so kudos to them.”
“Just the way they move the ball, it seems like they’re always on the attack,” said Curry of what impresses him most about the Spurs. “They force you to make decisions on both ends of the floor, so it’s always a reminder that we can take it to another level.”
“They’re a great basketball team,” said Warriors head coach Mark Jackson after the game. “(They’re) the best team in basketball right now for a reason. Another job well done (by the Spurs), individually and collectively.”
The Warriors’ injuries and Spurs’ defense
“It wasn’t a fair fight because it is late in the season and it’s a back to back,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich of the win over the Warriors after the game. “They had three important guys out, two big guys like Andre (Iguodala) and that makes it pretty tough.”
With the Warriors shorthanded, the Spurs were able to key-in defensively on Curry, Barnes, and Thompson. Curry, who had Parker, Leonard, and Green defend him at different times in the game, finished shooting 5-of-15 from the field for 11 points and 10 assists. Of the nine contested shots Curry took, he only made two of them. Though Thompson shot a solid percentage (63%) for 15 points, Green and the Spurs’ guards gave him very few shot attempts, as he only took eight looks on the night. In terms of Barnes, the Spurs’ defense often dared him to shoot and the move paid off, as Barnes went 3-of-12 shooting on the night for 11 points. Of Barnes’ 11 shots, eight were uncontested and he only made two of them.
Overall, the Spurs’ defense contested 61% of the Warriors’ shots on the night. Golden State finished shooting 42% from the field, and never scored more than 25 points in a quarter.
Will the Thunder face the Spurs’ core players Thursday?
On Thursday, the Spurs will have a back-to-back game in Oklahoma City, and though only Diaw played more than 30 minutes in the game, it’s unknown if any core players will be rested in the match.
“I don’t want to speculate on that sort of thing,” said Popovich, when asked if all or some members of the Spurs’ ‘Big 3’ will rest against the Thunder. “We talk internally and we will try to figure out what we want to do, but I am not going to discuss it in a group outside of our guys.”
Here were the minutes and miles ran by the Spurs’ core players Wednesday: Diaw (33:29 minutes, 2.3 miles), Leonard (29:25 minutes, 2.1 miles), Parker (28:15 minutes, 2.0 miles), Belinelli (27:45 minutes, 2.0 miles), Danny Green (26:50, 1.9 miles), Duncan (20:21 minutes, 1.3 miles), Mills (19:45 minutes, 1.4 miles), Ginobili (19:08 minutes, 1.3 miles), Tiago Splitter (10:50 minutes, 0.8 miles).
A look into the 19-game winning streak
During their 19-game winning streak, the Spurs are beating teams by an average of 16.8 points per game. The Spurs are scoring 111.2 points, shooting 49.5% from the field, 42.9% from three, collecting 28.5 assists, and only turning the ball over 13.9 times per game. Defensively, they’re holding teams to 94.4 points per game during the streak.
The Spurs are ranked first in Offensive Rating with 112.6 points per 100 possessions and ranked first in Defensive Rating by holding teams to 96.4 points per 100 possessions during the streak. The Spurs also have the highest Net Rating, outscoring teams by 16.2 points per 100 possessions.
7 Regular Season Games left
With seven regular season games remaining and the Spurs holding onto the best record in the NBA at 59-16, San Antonio has a 4 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (54-19) in the Western Conference and a 6.5 game lead over both the Indiana Pacers (53-23) and Miami Heat (52-22) overall.
Where San Antonio Stands
- Regular Season: 59-16 (Lead the NBA)
- Home Record: 30-8
- Vs. Opponents with +.500 records: 26-14
- Vs. The Western Conference: 35-10
- Post All-Star Break Record: 21-1 (Lead the NBA)
- Since Kawhi Leonard returned from injury: 19-0
- Of the Spurs’ 59 wins, 34 have been by double-figures.
(All Stats and Player Tracking data via NBA.com)