SAN ANTONIO – For the first time since 1996, the San Antonio Spurs played a playoff game without Head Coach Gregg Popovich, who missed the game after the death of his wife, Erin, just 24 hours earlier.
Basketball was the last thing on the minds of the Spurs players, coaches, and fans. But the game had to go on.
The Spurs gave it all they had but it was not enough as they fell 110-97 to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at the AT&T Center on Thursday night.
“In all three games the guys have played hard,” Spurs Assistant Coach Ettore Messina said. On the defensive end, the guys have tried and competed. They dive for loose balls, switch, but as you can see we are having trouble scoring.”
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, and Patty Mills.
- The Spurs showed heart and after the past 24 hours, that is all you can really ask.
- San Antonio kept pace with Golden State in the first quarter, being down just three points going into the second quarter.
- With the loss, the silver and black are now on the brink of being swept by the Warriors for the second straight season.
- San Antonio’s offense still struggled, shooting 36 percent in the first half. From three-point range, the Spurs shot just 21 percent (7-for-33).
- After a tough stretch to end the season, the silver and black look just tired both physically and emotionally.
Three Standout Players:
The Spurs forward did his best to keep his team in it. He finished with 18 points on 60 percent shooting. He would score eight points in the first quarter but then was met with double teams from JaVale McGee and David West at times.
Aldridge has averaged 22 points per game through three games in this series and it is hard to fathom just where San Antonio would be without him the entire season. The second half saw Aldridge be more aggressive through the end of the third quarter but in the end, it would not be enough.
The fan favorite point guard sparked his team in the first half of Game 2 and did his best to do so in Game 3 on Thursday night.
Mills finished with 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting, going 2-for-7 from three-point range. He would hit a big triple in the first quarter to bring the Spurs within single digits but the third quarter was a different story. He went scoreless, going 0-for-4. However, Mills is the lone Spur to hit multiple three-pointers in the series.
The loss of Erin Popovich hit both players Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker the hardest. Parker had known Erin since he entered the NBA at age 19 and said she was like family to him. He and Ginobili went to see Coach Pop at his house after news broke of Erin’s death.
Parker used the game as a distraction, putting up his best numbers in over a month. He finished with 16 points, with 10 coming in the first half. He shot 50 percent from the field and went 4-for-5 from the free throw line.
However, now the Spurs find themselves down 0-3 to the defending NBA champions. What motivation does Parker have to keep the season going? Well, he isn’t even thinking about it.
“It’s hard to think about that for me personally,” he said. “Other stuff is bigger than basketball.”
The Spurs trail the best-of-seven series 0-3 and will return to the court on Sunday afternoon for Game 4 against the Warriors at 2:30 p.m. CDT at the AT&T Center.