Gregg Popovich opted to play all of his guys in Oakland tonight, causing a buddy of mine to remark that playing his guys was an unnecessary injury risk for the Spurs. And halfway through the first quarter LaMarcus Aldridge had an attempt blocked at the basket and his right hand collided with the rim. He left the game holding his right hand while Spurs fans feared the worst and hoped for something better than the worst. So that's on my friend and his negative thoughts.
San Antonio lucked out and was spared the worst. Aldridge checked back into the game, which was a bit of a surprise (on top of the surprise that everyone but Boris would be available for the game) from the normally ultra-conservative Pop, halfway through the second period after he had his right pinky relocated. Unfortunately, LaMarcus didn't relocate the bottom of the net and missed his first two shots after he checked back in and was 2-for-9 from the field at the half.
Steph Curry hit just three of his eight first-half shots but the Warriors found fire in Harrison Barnes, who finished with a game-high 14 at the break on 6-for-9 from the field and had five rebounds. Clearly, the Spurs' plan is to force someone other than the MVP to beat them, and that didn't work tonight. In addition to Barnes, the Warriors enjoyed solid play from their second best player in Klay Thompson in the first 24.
The Spurs controlled the pace in the first half, but the Warriors did their damage from deep, hitting eight of their twelve triples while San Antonio had a tough time putting the ball through the hoop, as they have in all three of the games this season against the Dubs. The Silver and Black scored just 40 points in the first half, and while against most teams that isn't a huge deal, against the firepower in North California, that's not going to get it done.
I took it as a good omen that Aldridge hit his first shot of the third, a little jumper from halfway down the left baseline, but that good omen didn't last long as the Warriors took advantage of the Spurs' poor shooting and defensive lapses. building a 67-48 lead with 7:30 left in the third.
As much as it pains me to say it, perhaps Tim Duncan shouldn't play much against the Warriors. He had a pretty poor game, missing bunnies and looking a step slow, though it is just one game and I'm not quite ready to commit to the idea that Big Fun just can't go against the Warriors.
Curry got hot in the third, the Warriors as a whole were great, moving the ball beautifully, getting easy oops and certainly looked like the best team in the world, full of confidence and executing at a very high level.
Matt Bonner, Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin gave the Spurs the smallest glimmer of hope towards the end of the third, but the Dubs took a 20-point lead into the final quarter and the game was all but over.
The Spurs had a couple of chances to make it interesting in the fourth but never got into real striking distance. The Spurs cut their 20-point deficit to 13 a couple of times, at 9:16 and 5:23, but the Warriors responded each time and laid waste to daydreams (night-dreams?) of a SA comeback.
With the Spurs at full strength and going for it, the Warriors kept their 73-win quest alive and sent a message to the Spurs with a decisive win. The good guys will need to be much better on the offensive end going forward against the Warriors if they want a sixth LOB.
I've been saying that Boris Diaw is the key against the Warriors, and while I'll stand by that, I must admit that I can't make a good argument that the Big Frenchman would have changed much in this one.
That's not to say that the Spurs can't or won't win a series against Golden State. But the Silver and Black are going to need to figure out their offensive game against the Warriors or end up on vacation in June.
One last note: Kawhi Leonard finished with a team-high 23 on 8-of-12 but was somehow underwhelming. I was hoping to see Whi take the game over, but it never happened. Sunday will be interesting.
Extraneous G has said that his key guys will rest tomorrow night when the Spurs visit the Nuggets and that he'll play everyone at home on Sunday when the Warriors visit San Antonio to conclude the regular season series. There's nothing for the Spurs to play for against the Nugs, but I still expect them to win, because that's just how they roll.