After jumping out to a quick (and I mean blink-and-you-might-miss-it kind of quick) 21 point lead over the Warriors Thursday night in the AT&T Center, the silver and black were quickly reminded of where the road to a 6th championship goes through. After a barrage of Golden State three pointers and Spurs turnovers, the home team walked off the floor on the wrong end of a 40 point turnaround and a 112-92 loss. Here are a few takeaways from a bizarre night of basketball.
- Danny Green is balling right now. #14 might not be filling up the stat sheet each night, but it’s becoming obvious how much work he put in during the off-season. The former Tarheel sharpshooter used to be so one dimensional offensively that if he was not connecting from deep, he turned into a liability on the offensive end of the floor. Fortunately for the Spurs, Green has added multiple facets to his game this season - a new mid-range step back jumper and a more polished handle. Without Leonard on the floor, it has made things much tougher on the 8 year veteran. However, once the Klaw gets back and the offense starts humming, we should really start to see things open up for Green.
Maybe we’ll even see more plays like this:
- Pop is pulling out all of the tricks on offense right now. Every other possession was a version of the flex offense and top of the key pick and rolls (with a variety of off ball screens and backdoor cuts played off of both sets) in an attempt to keep the defense moving. Unfortunately the Warriors length and athleticism disrupted the flow of all of that and forced the Spurs to beat them one-on-one, much like in the conference finals last May.
- LaMarcus Aldridge thrived early on because of this, however as the game wore on, so did the 5-time All-Star. Once fatigue set in, Aldridge was no longer able to effectively back down his man, or pass out of the continuous double teams that Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent his way. It is hard to be critical of the former Longhorn, as he went for 24 points and 10 rebounds in a game where he was triple teamed for most of the night. It will be interesting how this new shoot-first mentality Aldridge has rediscovered will gel with the offense when Kawhi gets back.
- Kyle Anderson was a major bright spot last night. The 4th year man out of UCLA has made serious strides this season after being thrust into the starting lineup two weeks ago. Slow Mo turned some heads with his performance last night (16 points, 7 boards, and 4 assists), and gained some much-needed confidence and experience against a team that the Spurs could face again later in the postseason.
- Patty Mills has got to play at a higher level. #8’s energy and effort will never be questioned, but his shooting stroke seems to have abandoned him since late April. It’s become clear that Mills is better suited in a supporting role. Being thrust into a position where he is relied upon to score and initiate the offense has caused major struggles for the Australian veteran, and it will be intriguing to see how he will bounce back after yet another disappointing performance.
Overall it is important to remember that this is only game number eight of an 82 game schedule. As fans, there is often a knee jerk reaction that will take place after a lopsided loss to a marquee team. However it is important to remember that this thing is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s see where we are when the Klaw gets back.
As always, Go Spurs Go.