Without Coach Gregg Popovich, who just lost his wife of over 40 years, the Spurs played an emotional Game 3 in which they fell 110–97 Thursday night in San Antonio.
Despite a much-welcomed 16-point performance by veteran Tony Parker, who was visibly affected by the loss of Erin Popovich, the Spurs were unable to stop the Warriors’ explosive third quarter. Now, facing elimination, the Spurs need to figure out some way to outperform the Warriors in Game 4 this afternoon. Here are some adjustments the Spurs need to make to do that.
Defend the Three
Although the Warriors have an unearthly ability to hit 3-point jumpers from practically any angle with a hand in their face, there must be a way to stop their productivity in this area. While the Spurs have improved on defense since Game 1, they are still getting open looks from downtown which usually swings the momentum for quick runs. The Spurs’ defense needs to stay on shooters and give them no space or freedom to get a confident shot off. This is especially true for defending Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Quin Cook. Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray have shown significant defensive intensity as well as Manu Ginobili. Bryn Forbes, and Kyle Anderson need to step up on defense to give their teammates the ability to focus on their own defensive assignments.
Hit More Jump Shots
This is a hard one because you either hit the shot or you don’t, but the Spurs have been missing too many jump shots, especially beyond the arc. While the Warriors are praised for their defense, their defensive efforts are not always responsible for the Spurs missed shots. When coming over on fast breaks, Danny Green and Patty Mills have made it a habit to try for a quick uncontested 3-point jumper. Most of the time, San Antonio ends up missing an opportunity to convert on those plays because after missing the open shot, their teammates haven’t made it over for the offensive board, giving the quick-footed Warriors the opportunity to make a conversion of their own off of the failed Spurs offensive attempt.
Move the Ball More on Offense
This is an area in which the Spurs have shown significant improvement since Game 1 as well. When the Spurs move the ball around, it gets the Warrior defense all mixed up and usually leads to a quick high-low opportunity for the Spurs. For one reason or another, the Spurs’ passing has become sloppy at the beginning of the third quarter which has led to Warrior runs every game. If the Spurs can maintain passing efficiency and focus through halftime and into the third quarter, they have a greater shoat at getting a win.
The Spurs face the Warriors for the possible elimination game Sunday afternoon in San Antonio. The Spurs will be without Coach Pop once again and will need every ounce of focus and determination they can muster to stay in the playoff fight for another day.