Coming into Thursday's game, neither the Spurs or the Warriors had won consecutive games in the series. The Spurs struck first but the Warriors countered with a win of their own, eventually knotting up the series at 2-2. San Antonio blew them out of the water in Game 5 to go up 3-2 and finished the job last night in a nervous Oracle Arena.
After the Game 1 and 2 offensive explosions by Golden State's Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Spurs focused their efforts on shutting down the young guards and forcing the rest of the Warriors to take over. This tactic definitely worked in Game 3. Tony Parker propelled the Spurs with 32 points while the Warriors backcourt couldn't even reach that number. But the Warriors returned to playing solid defense in the next game, eventually stealing the victory in overtime.
Defense has once again become the Spurs calling card - something that couldn't been said the past few seasons. The Spurs were well-equipped, with Danny Green (6'6") and Kawhi Leonard (6'7"), to shut down the Warriors backcourt. Both are long and quick enough to bother the jump shooters and can cover ground in a heartbeat. Stephen Curry was able to get his points most of the games but Klay Thompson had been shut down since his explosion in game 2. Kawhi shadowed his fellow 2011 draft pick (Thompson was 11th, Leonard 15th), so much so that Kaly didn't attempt a single three pointer in Game 5. Kawhi, on the other hand, has had great games this post-season and is making a huge impact on the boards.
The Warriors had the advantage in Game 6, since their home arena was even louder than usual in the elimination game. The media has been drooling over the upstart team because of how much fun they're to watch - hot shooters and fast athletes will do that. Golden State had the perfect showcase in the first round, playing one of the worst 3PT defensive teams in the league, the Denver Nuggets. Stephen Curry was able to amaze the world and his performance in the legendary Game 1 of this year's Semi-Conference Finals helped him garner his first Sports Illustrated cover as an NBA player. The Spurs were able to limit him since then, but were soon getting burned by Thompson and the team's own inability to hit shots on a consistent basis. The Spurs needed to get back to basics - and they did.
Post game Pop Quote
"I want to congratulate the Warriors on a great season."
- The first thing Pop says in his post game interview.
- How the Spurs won even though Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili shot terribly.
The game was close throughout, with the Spurs holding high single digit leads for most of it. Every time San Antonio started pulling away, the Warriors would claw back to within a possession or two. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili shota combined 4-22 (18%) but more than made up for it by combining for 19 assists (more than 70% of the team's assists).
A crucial stretch in the fourth quarter saw the semi-comfortable advantage that the Spurs had wither down to two with less than five minutes to go in the game on a Stephen Curry jump shot.
Things only got worse. On the very next possession, Tim Duncan threw the ball out of bounds (to Joey Crawford, really), giving the Spurs a crucial turnover that would give the Warriors a golden shot at yet another comeback. But the Spurs fell back on their defense and stopped the Warriors on the ensuing possession. Manu Ginobili then dished his 9th assist to a wide open Tony Parker in the corner. The ice cold Parker drained the three but the Warriors would cut the lead to a single possession again with just over two minutes remaining. Kawhi Leonard came up clutch again with a three of his own from the opposite corner. The 'Splash Bros' rimmed out their three point attempts and that was soon followed by Tony Parker sinking yet another three pointer in Jarrett Jack's face. (By the way, the Parker-Leonard-Parker three pointers were all assisted by Manu.) A valiant effort by the young team but experience and methodical steps won this time.
Tony made two corner threes and a jumper from the right elbow. He missed three more jumpers around the right side, four jumpers on the left elbow (a TP specialty), and four shots in the paint. At least two of those inside looks were botched fast break or transition layups. If half of Tony's shots had gone in, the Spurs would have routed the Warriors.
Great game by Kawhi and all of the Spurs, as every starter scored at least 11 points. Kawhi stood out, as he grabbed the only double-double of the game - 16 points and 10 rebounds. Leonard added 2 steals, although it seemed like he had more than that. His dunk off of his missed three pointer was amazine.
Curry was a -19 in +/-. No other Warrior was worse than -9. Steph was getting abused on the defensive end, once again, as Pop made Curry work hard on both sides of the court. It's hard to see how a 22 point, 6 assist performance got him the Game Runt but it took Curry 25 shots to get those 22 points. Why, you ask? Because he shot 0 free throws. He doesn't drive enough to get calls in the paint.
By the Numbers
- 0 - Quarters won by the Golden State Warriors in Game 6. The Spurs won three outright and tied at 19 in the 3rd.
- 6 - Rebounding differential for the Spurs. They grabbed 46 boards and were able to limit Golden State on that end. Klay Thompson had 0 rebounds.
- 18% - Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili's combined shooting percentage. Parker was 3-16 and Ginobili was 1-6.
- 19 - Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili's combined assists. Parker had 8, while Ginobili had 11. Manu wasn't looking for his shot all night, and distributed well.
- 3 - 3 point differential for the Spurs over the Warriors. The Spurs made 7/19 (36.8%), the Warriors 4/16 (25%). Before hitting their final three point attempts, they were also at 25%.
- 27:33 - Assists to field goals. The Spurs were playing team ball much better than the Warriors, who had the same amount of makes, but 9 fewer assists.
- 84:63 - Free throw percentage, Spurs to Warriors. The Spurs attempted 25, 6 more than the Warriors, and made 21, two more than the Warriors even attempted. That's a great advantage.
- 0 - Points by Boris Diaw. He had 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 19 minutes.
- 26 - Points by Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, nearly a third of the Warriors total. Both players are free agents this summer.
Bird is the Word
Warriors, it’s been fun, but it really hasn’t been THAT fun.— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) May 17, 2013
EIGHT— Danny Green (@DGreen_14) May 17, 2013
Tiago Splitter, on the matchup vs. Z-Bo: "It's non-stop fighting. ... He's a warrior." Although, not a Warrior.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) May 17, 2013
- Big man match ups are the key to the series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Pop was getting just a few more minutes extra for Tim when he sat him at the end of the game. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are arguably the best front court in the game, better than the Dwight Howard - Pau Gasol tandem that the Spurs faced in the first round. Those guys did great but the rest of the Lakers couldn't do much else, leading to an easy sweep. Will the Spurs focus their energy on these big men and try to make Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen step up? Seemed to work against Golden State.
- Gary Neal seems to have shot himself out of that shooting slump he was in during the postseason. He hit 4-6 shots, going 4-4 inside the perimeter. He's perfected that leaning forward jumper that Russell Westbrook can also hit on a consistent basis. He also grabbed 5 boards, and has always been a decent rebounder for a guard his size.
- Curry blocked/fouls kawhi on a fast break, which ended up being called as a jump ball. As you can guess, Kawhi won this one easily. Curry tried to immediately out-jump Kawhi but Leonard patiently timed the ball.
- The announcers were overusing the term, 'Splash Brothers' early in the game but stopped using it as the game went on. The famed Golden State backcourt was a paltry 4/12 from downtown.
- "Andrew Bogut": Jeff Van Gundy after Mike Breen says that the Warriors haven't shot well from the line this series, less than 70%. Once again, the announcers are talking about changing the hack-a-"PERSON" rule, even though it was only implemented once in this game to give the Spurs a two-for-one chance at the end of the first half.
- Danny Green did well again, hounding Curry on the defensive end. Offensively, Green hit 3/4 three pointers and grabbed four rebounds. Nearly the perfect amount of what the Spurs need from him.
- Every Spurs starter scored in double digits. Balance.
- Tony Parker missed a lot of layups tonight. He had at least two missed fast break layups, which are usually a Parker staple. He was obviously tired tonight and still ended up playing the most minutes on the team, even waving off Pop as he was about to sub him out with Cory Joseph. He had to guard Harrison Barnes for more than half of the series, and was visibly tired from that in addition to his calf injury.
- The announcers, especially Van Gundy, were fawning over Cory Joseph. Both Leonard and Joseph were from the 2011 draft. That year was strong, and Leonard and Joseph are obviously very talented, but these players' quick and impressive contributions at this point in the playoffs (and throughout the regular season) are a testament to the Spurs' scouting and development abilities.
- Tim Duncan was taken out with over four minutes left in the fourth quarter, and looked disappointed that he wasn't out there closing the game. Duncan started off hot, but wasn't able to keep it going and looked more tired as time went on. Even though he had that break, he nearly had 32 minutes. He's going to need the rest against the Grizzlies.
- Who else is excited for Spurs-Grizzlies? The NBA is. Ratings are going to be through the roof! /Sarcasm
Going into the Next Game, the Spurs need to…
…get some rest. San Antonio has had less than 48 hours for game in the entire series. The fast paced game showed its effects in Game 6, as both teams seemed more sluggish than usual. The Spurs face Memphis on Sunday, so they have at least a couple of days to get better.
The Spurs are seeking revenge. Here they come.