Morning Rehash: Back to zero

USA TODAY Sports

It was Stephen Curry in Game 1, but in Game 2 it was Klay Thompson, and a lot of Spurs missed three-pointers. San Antonio's 5 game playoff streak, and their personal 30 game streak against the Warriors, is history. But all's not lost. In fact, there may be a good reason to be hopeful.

Opening Hash

Momentum is a funny thing. Sometimes you're cruising along and a setback out of nowhere knocks you off your stride, robbing you of your hard-earned velocity. Now every step is a struggle and it feels like it'll take forever to really get moving again. That feeling is, on so many levels, a deception: a self-defeating proclamation from that part of your brain that's not your friend and that you'd do well to learn to ignore.

A buddy of mine wrote an excellent article about momentum on his website (which is centered around personal development) and referenced the Stonecutter's Creedo we know so well. Do yourself a favor and check it out, as it discusses this topic in terms that Spurs fans, and £ers, are very familiar with.

As to the Spurs and the setback their momentum suffered at the hands of the Warriors on Wednesday night, I actually almost expected it. Someone told me that every time any team that lost a playoff game that they had led in the fourth quarter by more than 15 points, that team came back to win the next game. Now, I was never able to confirm this bit of data, but it rung true with me and I was never able to shake it off the way that I usually do with unspecific doomsday soothsaying.

It's easy to look at the way the Spurs have played through the first two games, and wonder if this is the way the rest of the series is going to go. I'm having those thoughts myself, for sure. Even watching Game 1, when Stephen Curry was going off in the third quarter, one of the Spurs, Danny Green maybe, shot and missed a three and I thought, "Why did he miss?" Because Curry makes it look so easy that my brain immediately clicked into a mode where it expected every shot every player took to go in, regardless of how difficult it was. When the opposing player is reaching that level, it's disconcerting. When multiple guys on the other team are taking turns getting into that zone, it's downright devastating. But that's not the whole truth.

Which brings me back to my opening about those self-defeating thoughts being a sham. Momentum is terribly important to maintain, but it's not the full story. When you're running at a comfortable pace and suddenly fall, working to get going again is essential. But focusing on your current lack of momentum, and comparing it to your previous speed, only serves to make you feel like your loss of momentum has set you back to zero. The truth is that significant ground had been gained before that setback, and that's something that can't be taken away by any fall.

The Spurs may be currently tied with Golden State, but they need just three more wins to put this series behind them.

Standard Pre-Game Pop Quote

I like this. It loosens me up.

-Popovich on a very non-standard line of questioning that really changed the tenor of his pregame presser.

Bonus GIF

Not all of last night's action consisted of Golden State three-pointers snapping the twine. Here's a GIF of Kawhi lifting off and slamming. I hope it lifts the spirits of many a disconsolate Spurs fan.

Leonarddunk_medium

Yeah, that's better.

Shoot-Around Notes

[Courtesy of Fred Silva]

  • Mark Jackson Tim Duncan smiled more during his pregame shootaround than I've seen him smile in the 3 home playoff games combined. He must be feeling good.
  • Diaw was halfheartedly posting up one of the assistant coaches in shootaround and Udoka finally had enough of him fooling around and decided to guard Boris himself. Ime can still defend.
  • I looked over and Bogut missed a free throw. I looked over again and Bogut missed a free throw. As far as I know, Bogut didn't make a single shot in his pregame warmup.
  • Matt Bonner practices that one-handed driving hook shot before each game. Yes, it looks just as awkward when no one is guarding him. Maybe even more so.
  • As you'd expect, Curry doesn't miss many during his warmup. He took shots from 5 spots around the horn and missed just 6 of them. He didn't appear to be taking it seriously. He was just chucking the ball, seemingly off-balance most of the time.
  • The Essential Hash

    Be sure to read Fred Silva's recap of last night's game if you haven't already. [Thanks to J. Gomez for the rest of this rehash.]

    The Spurs seemed unable to contain the Warriors' three point barrage once again. This time it was Klay Thompson who did most of the damage in the first half, propelling the Warriors to an early lead. Thompson and Curry combined for 42 first half points, only one less that the Spurs' total. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were aggressive and on point for the Spurs but they just couldn't match the young Golden State stars and the bench provided little help. To beat the Warriors you have to match their shooting.

    The second half saw the Spurs go small and it paid off. Curry and Thompson combined for just 5-19 from the field and, overall, the defense was better. But after a prolific third quarter the Spurs couldn't get enough buckets to make up the difference. As great as Kawhi Leonard was in other aspects of the game, his three-point shooting hurt the team this time around and with Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner playing limutes, the Spurs needed a forward to hit the long ball.

    Ultimately, the Spurs were great on defense in the second half but bad on offense after struggling in the opposite areas in the first half. At this level they can't afford to play well on only one side of the ball.

    Game Boss

    Klay Klay Thompson
    PTS FGM FGA AST REB STL TO MIN
    34 13 26 1 14 3 1 46:36

    Thompson scored 29 first half points and set the tone for a Warriors team that didn't get Video Game Mode Steph Curry on this one. Thompson did a good job on defense when he was on Parker and finished with 34 points on eight of nine from beyond the arc and 14 boards, all career highs.

    Mychal's kid would be the best shooter in almost every NBA team but since he shares the back court with Curry he sometimes gets overlooked. But he has a very quick release and can put the ball on the floor and cut off the ball as well, as the Spurs found out.

    The Spurs will need to figure out how to stop Thompson more than they need to figure out how to stop Curry and so far they haven't. Their chances in this series will hinge on whether or not Pop can find a way to neutralize the Warriors' shooting guard.

    Game Runt

    Neal Gary Neal
    PTS FGM FGA AST REB STL TO MIN
    6 2 9 0 3 0 1 20:11

    Neal played the fifth most minutes for the Spurs and I can't understand why. Even in the Spurs' third quarter run he was awful, going 1-5 from the field and playing questionable defense.

    I'm usually hard on Neal but I like him and think he has a role on this team and in this league. But in games like these, when his shot is off and the other team has good offensive guards who also happen to have the athletic edge on The Nail, I don't see what he brings to the table.

    I will also take this chance to mention that if you need evidence that single game plus/minus is meaningless you should look no further than to Neal's stat line. Neal was a team best +7 but he didn't make any meaningful contributions.

    By The Numbers

    • 29 - First half points by Klay Thompson. The leading scorer for the Spurs was Tim Duncan and he scored 23 in the whole game.
    • 24 - That was the Spurs' three point percentage on 23 attempts. The Warriors shot the three ball at a 48% rate on 21 shots from beyond the arc. For the Spurs to take one or both games in the Bay Area, those numbers have to be closer.
    • 7:43 - That's how long Boris Diaw was out there playing. After playing a huge part on the Spurs' comeback on Monday, Diaw got very little playing time and only saw garbage time minutes in the second half.
    • 14 - The Spurs logged only 14 assists on 35 made baskets. That illustrates how stagnant the offense was at times. There was no ball or player movement and the screens were awful.
    • 40 - The Spurs got 40 points in the paint to the Warriors' 32. They also got the edge on fast break points (19 to 10) and second chance points (20 to 12) and still lost. That's what happens when you miss from outside.
    • 46.2 - That the percentage the Warriors shot at the rim. That's well below their season and playoff average and slightly lower than the Spurs' (50%). Unsurprisingly, the Warriors won because they can hit jumpers.
    • 30 - That's how many consecutive games the Warriors had lost in San Antonio. But they won one when it counts.


    Bird is the Word











    Going into next game, the Spurs need to...

    Figure out a way to make the Warriors adjust to them and not the other way around. If that means going small, switching everything on defense and running, then do that. If it means starting Splitter next to Duncan and funneling opposing guards towards the paint while running the offense from the post, fine. The Spurs need to set the tone early and finding a lineup that can control the Warriors' early offensive explosions and force them to change is paramount. I still think the Spurs are the better team and can leave the Bay Area with at least a win. They just need to adapt their game plan and start hitting open shots.

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