After a valiant first-half effort that gave them a six-point lead going into halftime, the San Antonio Spurs fell to the Warriors, 116-101 in Oakland on Monday night.
With a dire situation at hand, can the Spurs make adjustments and get a win on Thursday in San Antonio? Here are some adjustments that could give them a chance.
More Ball Movement
During the first half, the Spurs did a fantastic job of slowing down the pace of the game. While many critics have boasted that you can’t slow down against the Golden State Warriors if you want to win, the Spurs managed to utilize the shot clock and their passing ability to outwit the restless Warriors. The Spurs, who also upped their defensive intensity, used high/low offense to give them the upper hand for the majority of the first and second quarters. In the second half, the Spurs lost focus. The Warriors caught on somewhat, but the fault lies in the attentiveness of San Antonio coming into the third, a point in the game they’ve struggled with all year.
In Game 3, the Spurs need to go back to that focused passing game with high/low offense. While it’s easy to want to start pumping out three-pointers when that’s a huge chunk of what the Warriors shoot, San Antonio needs to slow the pace each and every time they touch the ball. Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills are great assets when they utilize the shot clock and both are great shooters. However, against the Warriors, the impulse to shoot a quick three just for the sake of shooting threes isn’t the smartest route to choose. They don’t have the 3-point prowess of their opponent. If the Spurs take a shot from downtown, it should result from an open opportunity due to passing efficiency or a double team on LaMarcus Aldridge down low.
Defend the Perimeter
The Warriors shoot threes. Whether they’re up or down by 20 points, count on the Warriors shooting their hearts out. The dagger on Monday was Klay Thompson with help from Kevin Durant. While it’s obviously frustrating to defend and fail or get called for a foul on a long-distance shot, the Spurs cannot tire of defending the outside. The reason the Spurs held onto a lead in the first half was due to the fact that before any Warrior had the opportunity to go up for a shot, the Spurs defenders were pestering their every move. That defensive fire burned out during the first few minutes of quarter three. That can’t happen tomorrow night.
Must Make Layups
Too many times throughout Games 1 and 2, the Spurs could not follow through on close-range shots. The worst shot to miss is a layup. Furthermore, Patty Mills, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, and many more Spurs missed layups that were uncontested. They must make their layups when they can get those shot opportunities. They cannot afford to miss those easy opportunities because those are their best opportunity to either build a lead or catch up when behind.
The Spurs and Warriors will face off in San Antonio Thursday night for the first time this postseason. The Spurs have a home record of 33-8.