Golden State Warriors 100, San Antonio Spurs 91: Super Splash Brothers Melee

by

AT&T CENTER — It was like deja vu all over again. The Warriors guard rose up and flicked the ball with the casualness of a Sunday morning breakfast. More often than not it went in and for one quarter of the night, the shots fell so consistently that the groans came from those gathered at the AT&T Center before the Warriors’ gunner even started his release.

This time it was the second quarter. And this time it was Klay Thompson.

Thompson scored a career-high 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting and 8-for-9 from 3-point range, including a 17 point barrage in the second quarter, as the Golden State Warriors held on for a 100-91 win after another late charge from the Spurs. Thompson also had a career-high 14 rebounds. The win for the Warriors evened the Western Conference Semifinals series at one game apiece.

Like Stephen Curry in Game 1, every time Thompson touched the ball, it seemed destined to end up at the bottom of the net and there wasn’t much anyone in silver and black could do about it. Unlike Curry in Game 1, a large portion of these shots came from spot-up opportunities, afforded thanks to the attention given to Curry after the shooting clinic he put on in Game 1.

“I told him at halftime that is, end of discussion, one of the greatest halves ever,” Golden State head coach Mark Jackson said after the game. “I have the greatest shooting backcourt that’s ever played the game and call my bluff.”

The Spurs looked like they might have solved the riddle of The Greatest Shooting Backcourt That Couldn’t Miss in the second half when Gregg Popovich started Kawhi Leonard as the small ball power forward and brought Gary Neal on instead of another big man. After facing a 19-point halftime deficit, the Spurs cut Golden State’s lead down to eight points by the last possession of the third quarter. But then Warriors guard Jarrett Jack found Thompson open in the corner for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that reestablished Golden State’s lead at double digits and killed a significant portion of San Antonio’s momentum.

The smallball lineup seemed to work for the Spurs in the third quarter. It enabled the Spurs to put Leonard and Danny Green on Thompson and Curry, while Parker, Ginobili and Gary Neal defended some combination of Harrison Barnes, Jarrett Jack and whichever power forward Golden State played. Despite not matching the Spurs’ smallball approach and going big, the Warriors were unable to punish San Antonio inside. The Spurs outrebounded Golden State 17-12 in the third quarter and had only three second chance points to San Antonio’s 11.

The catalyst for the positives in the smallball approach was Leonard. The Spurs swingman was everywhere in the third quarter, tipping out rebounds, blocking shots, finishing on the break, not to mention his defense on the Warriors pair of shooters. Leonard’s effort and activity created opportunities for everyone in silver and black. Leonard’s line in the third quarter looks meager (six points, four rebounds, a block and an assist), but the impact it had can’t be understated.

In the fourth quarter Golden State’s lead was down to as few as six points about midway through the period, but the Spurs’ inability to capitalize on free throws and 3-point shots, a recurring theme for most of this game, hurt them in the end. San Antonio finished the game 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from the 3-point line, with their first make not coming until Danny Green (10 points on 4-of-12 shooting) knocked one down at the 7:43 mark of the third quarter. To make matters worse, the Spurs hit just 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) of their free throws as well. While the Warriors were able to knock down big shots at opportune times, the Spurs failed to knock down the open shot opportunities that came their way.

Going forward, it seems like San Antonio’s best bet is to ride the small lineup. It seems to give them their best chance at defending the Warriors shooters while spreading the floor offensively and being competitive of the boards. The lineup including Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green didn’t fare to well in the advanced metrics on Wednesday night, but that lineup with Boris Diaw instead of Duncan was the group that won Game 1 for San Antonio.

There are no perfect choices in the game of playoff adjustments. No decision is easy. Like bringing Manu Ginobili off the bench years ago, going with a smallball lineup could be the personnel change Gregg Popovich is forced into. If not, the Spurs might have a couple of previews for what Game 3 could be like.


Lineup data courtesy of NBA.com/Stats

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=173600134 Ryan McShane

    Kawhi was an absolute beast in the 3rd quarter – his energy was Durant/Westbrook-esque. Parker was working hard too – but he got too tired in the fourth. Pop should have pulled him with about 6 minutes to go. You could see his eye twitch a little when he looked down the court at Parker after he fell down throwing the ball to the corner and mosied back up the court with his hands on his hips. I think Parker could have contributed more in the last couple of minutes with a short rest.

  • Kreutzberg

    Tiago has yet to show that he can be a factor in the playoffs. If he doesn’t step up at some point in this series/playoffs I don’t think he deserves the type of money that we were all speculating he will get this offseason.

  • Gomezd

    Why is it that some random player always manages to light us up in important series. I still remember Ibakas ridiculous 11-11 of some bs like that against us. Not to mention Gasols 10-11 or 11-12 a year earlier.

  • gosu manu

    same sentiments. but hey it takes some special play from some random guy to beat the spurs… i guess its ok to accept it

  • http://www.facebook.com/trentwilloughby09 Forrest Trent Willoughby

    Thompson had a career night shooting the rock and our guys couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn for the first half of the game. That was the difference tonight. Call it an anomaly, but Thompson and Curry can REALLY shoot. To beat Golden State, the Spurs have to make their open looks from beyond the arc, and they didn’t convert on many of those opportunities tonight. Our guards must shoot better, because their guys aren’t going to stop shooting well. It’s what they do. Thompson won’t go off like that again, but they have plenty of weapons to fill it up from deep. We have to respond with our own 3s. Green, Neal, and Leonard must make their open shots, or the good guys will be going fishing very soon.

  • assistman

    We can’t play huge minutes of small ball, our guys will be run ragged, and/or Gary Neal will hurt our already over-matched defense. We need our bigs to deliver for us. We need to get Bogut in foul trouble and score inside. I know we can’t give them 3′s and answer with 2′s, but we need buckets and aren’t they supposed to “die by the 3″ at some point?

    Considering how much the Warriors cooled off after their hot start, and how little they got from Bogut in the regular season, I didn’t see this coming. But they have a ton of high draft picks, and look like the more talented group right now. All they have to do is win at home, and we need to win at least one at Oracle. They basically outplayed us in these first two, and we could easily be down 0-2. They aren’t thinking we were just rusty, they are thinking they are gonna take this series. The first team to win 2 in a row usually wins the series, so we better look sharp on Friday.

  • Brandon in LA

    Time to unleash . . . Dejuan Blair and/or Tracy McGrady?

    On another note, I cringed when “playoff Bonner” showed up again. Pop put him in for a “spark” during our comeback attempt. Bonner caught the ball at the three point line and in a split second dished it to a teammate. Dude, you’re 6-10. There was a guard covering you. Take a shot. Don’t make me long for Steve Novak.

  • Melbourne Spur

    Glad to see I am not the only one who thinks going small isn’t the way to go. Since when did Golden State become better than us? Why are we changing our game to compete with them. Without Lee, their weakness is a lack of size, so why do we help their weakness by going small. Yes that have shooters, but in a line up of Green at the four, why can we not play Tiago and Timmy and bang away inside. They haven’t shown much intention to double down low, and when Tim has attacked Bogut or Ezeli he has had success. Bang it inside, let our bigs dominate our end of the floor, and that should create easier opportunities on the perimeter. Our biggest issue on defence isn’t defending the four, it’s the one, two and three spots that we are getting burned on, and it’s mainly Tony. Changing Tiago for Diaw or Bonner doesn’t solve that problem.

    I say stay big, work down low and draw fouls on Bogut early. Tony will have success getting inside once Bogut is out of there which will open up everything else for us, but start by going to time on the low block.

    Tony has to guard Barnes. He’s the lesser of the three evils out there. Danny to Curry, and Kawhi to Thompson. If they then post Barnes, we have two bigs to be able to help over to change his shot.
    I’m concerned for this series if we continue this mindset (we being fans and the actual team) of having to match them – that is the sort of mindset that gives them the advantage. Jackson has them believing they at least belong here or should win. By us catering to them, that perpetuates that feeling with his players, and only helps their confidence. Play it on our terms, our way. We are the better team, so lets make them change what they are doing and try and go bigger to match Tim and Tiago.
    A win in game three would burst a lot of their bubble. I think it’s the most important game of the series.

  • Melbourne Spur

    *Tim on the low block.

  • Doo Doo Jump

    I’d say a quarter in which a player gets 6 points, 4 boards, a block and an assist sounds pretty great, even if you just extrapolate it to 3 quarters: 18 points, 12 boards, 3 blocks, 3 assists is the kind of line any team would take.

    Whether the Spurs are going to go small at the 4 or not they need to figure out a third defender to cover Barnes/Thompson/Curry with. Kawhi and Green are doing well, but the third guy can has been going off against Parker/Manu/Neal/Bonner/Diaw/Splitter.

    It’s hard because Parker and Manu might be too old to really keep up for 40 minutes, but if the Warriors play Curry/Jack/Klay/Barnes, I think the Spurs have to play Parker/Manu/Green/Kawhi, with Kawhi and Green on Curry and Klay, Manu on Barnes and Parker on Jack. Barnes didn’t have a great line, but he had it too easy when Parker was on him; 3 assists might actually be his career high. Hell, he scored a pretty efficient 19 points in game one because he got a set of nice open looks when he was covered by Bonner/Diaw.

    I’m a Warriors fan too, and as happy as I am to see them competing in the 2nd round, I need the Spurs to win this series because I don’t want to see the Warriors getting clubbed by the Grizzlies. The Spurs have a shot at a title if they tighten up their shooting, and the Warriors, while crazy fun, don’t really have the inside presence to work Memphis or Miami. Please, Pop, work your magic.

  • Nathan Sizemore

    Did anyone else notice the ridiculous number of illegal screens set by Bogut in the game. It was unreal. I was keeping my own tally of Bogut fouls for fun with a friend and by the end of the game we had 32. He got away with murder.

    Klay Thompson also was allowed to be very physical and got away with a number of hacks and bumps. To me, it seems like Thompson is the key guys for GS. His absence was by far the biggest reason the Spurs won Game 1. His defense on Tony has been the biggest factor in the series thus far. I’m reminded of Sefolosha’s similar defensive game last year.

    So, what does that mean? Well, if the Spurs could just do one thing well – hit shots inside of six feet (man, there were a ton of short misses), shoot, shoot free throws… Their assist numbers were so far out of character for this team it was a little hard to believe.

    I agree that the key for the Spurs has to be to push the ball inside. And they need to do their best to deny penetration against GS. I’d much rather see GS continue to knock down threes with a hand in their face than kick the ball out to a man for a wide-open look.

  • SnooSnooBump

    I can see going small when Barnes is at the 4, since he’s too capable offensively for Splitter/Diaw to guard, but when Draymond Green is at the 4 Diaw or Splitter should be taking him apart. He’s been shooting 50% on 3′s in the playoffs, but he takes only wide open shots, so as long as his man doesn’t completely lose track of him, that shouldn’t be too big of a problem. That said, he’s a pretty solid defender, and he’s built like a freakin’ tank (he’s only 6’7, but he’s 230 lbs, or just 10 and 5 lbs lighter than Splitter and Diaw, respectively).

    In fact, I’d say Diaw’s the best bet, because he has the handle to post Green up and the passing to get it past him to Duncan. Splitter might get outmuscled or stripped if he puts the ball on the floor

  • Zac

    I most definitely noticed the illegal screens set by Bogut and all of the Warrior’s in general, in both games. Hell, I am pretty sure I saw Draymond Green plow into Ginobili full speed and definetly on purpose as he was trying to go around a screen full speed on purpose in last night’s critical fourth quarter I guess the Warrior’s mindset is we are going to make the refs call it and so far the refs have been allowing a large amount of contact and physicality to go uncalled on both sides. However, with Curry and Thompson’s ability to shoot that split second that an illegal screen allows them is the difference between a highly contested/no shot attempt and a relatively easy (for them) pull-up. I do want to applaud the Spurs for not complaining regarding this because the refs have really been letting a lot of things go and it has been nice watching the Spurs keep their composure, even though I have not been so composed.

  • RG

    I noticed Bogut also…just grabbing and holding guys who were trying to rotate to shooters or drivers. All in all the refs were letting them play physical, playoff basketball. This should be an area where we have an advantage, but GS was much more physical and got the benefits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Sauer/645387978 Christopher Sauer

    This team is playing Parker as tough as any I can remember. Klay’s defensive presence is huge, and they are isolating Curry/Klay/Jack against Parker on the other end. Parker’s a very decent team defender, but one-on-one, the mismatch is being exploited perfectly by the Warriors. Give them credit. That being said, we hit free throws, and a few more 3′s, we’re right in this ball game, despite Klay going nuclear in the 2nd quarter.

  • RG

    I’ll accept it as long as they don’t immediately go cold in the next series as they always tend to do! Remember Channing Frye lighting us up in 2010?

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  • Caui Leonard

    We need to go big. Go back to the rotation we used against the Lakers. We can kill them inside. We’re playing to their hand.
    I’m not worried though. Game 3 or game 4, Pop will start big. He needs Thiago to recover his ankle, that’s all. Pop is a patient man and this is a 7 game series. Noticed in game one how he saved Kawhi on Curry for the last quarter?
    Give him time. I have faith. We shot poorly. They shot lights out for 2 straight games and we fought back every time.
    Kawhi can kill them. He missed easy ones at the rim, but got there at will. If he is agressive and we keep going inside with our bigs, I’d like to see how they defend us without fouling.

  • HANK

    U AIN’T A WARRIORS FAN PERIOD! U DON’T WISH UR TEAM TO LOSE. IF THEY CAN BEAT THE SPUR THEY CAN BEAT OKC AND MEM.

  • Colin

    How come no one is mentioning a possible defensive scenario triangle and 2 defense or Box and 1 for their guards……..?

    I feel like reacting to GSW style of play will only help them. We need to utilize our bigs and take advantage of what we have.

  • TD BestEVER

    I know its been a while but I believe DJB should be given some time in the game especially since we are needing to go small anyway……..Our other Bigs other than TD aren’t playing so well were they should just be given all the minutes at those spots and going small isn’t our strength……

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=173600134 Ryan McShane

    Also, I can’t believe I didn’t catch the ode to Super Smash Brothers. /facepalm

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  • Titletown99030507d

    Thats Because He Knows Hes Leavin For A Better Situation. You Just Dont Stop The Front Court Rotation 3 Weeks BeFore THe playoffs Tinkering With Bonner And Blair wHile Losing His Established Minutes That He Earned Then Expect For Him To Save You. Sorry Thats What Pop Gets.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Blair. Ah No. Try Again.

  • Titletown99030507d

    If DJB Can Score And Hold Off The Big His Defending Why Not? And Bonner Spends Too Much Time On The CourT Doing Nothing. Timmy Might Be Getting Tired At This Part Of The Season Or He Was Still Showing The Effects Of The Flu.
    The Icyhot Boys Green And Neal Need To Be More Consistent. Neal Cant Defend And Cant Handle The Ball. Leonard Needs To Show Up The Entire Time Hes On The Court. And Splitter Well Lets See If Pop Can Leave On The Court Long Enough To Get A RhytHm. And Please Better Defending The 3 Point Line. And Can WE Start PuttingThat Round Orange Ball Through That Orange Metal Ring? Its Going To Be GSW In 6 Or Spurs In 7. Hate To Be Realistic But It Is What It Is.

  • Titletown99030507d

    pop Needs To Stick With tiago. Hes A Type Of Player That Gets Better As The Game Progresses. Little Spurts On The Court For TiaGo Just Isnt beneficial. Pop StarteD Doing This A Few Weeks Before The Season Ended. And Now Its Showing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=173600134 Ryan McShane

    Called it. See: Pop’s postgame Game3 comments.

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