Down 3-0 against the defending champs, doom and gloom was a pretty consistent theme among the Spurs faithful. After a tumultuous, roller coaster ride of a season, it looked like the nail was finally slotted into the Spurs coffin. Fortunately nobody told Manu Ginobili.
With their backs squarely against the wall, the Silver and Black came out swinging against the ‘Dubs. Led by their 40 year old play maker, the good guys tightened up defensively, shot with confidence, and fed off of the energy from an electric AT&T Center crowd.
They overcame a Kevin Durant run late in the fourth quarter and survived a heavyweight slug-fest with the defending champs. Not only did the win serve as one of the gutsiest performances in franchise history, but the Silver and Black kept their season alive as well.
Here are my takeaways from an inspiring day of basketball.
- For the first time in practically the entire season, LaMarcus Aldridge struggled to take advantage of his opportunities against the Warriors. The ‘Dubs game plan coming into the contest was pretty obvious: let anyone but LA beat you. Much like Game 3, the defending champs doubled Aldridge at every turn. Unlike Game 3, his teammates made them pay. The attention the former Longhorn drew on the block opened up opportunities for guys on the perimeter. When the Warriors adjusted, LA was able to get some better looks, but was off for much of the night. However he was still a force on the boards and helped deliver some big buckets in the second half that deflated GSW runs.
- Patty Mills may not have filled up the stat sheet, but he did a great job moving the ball, hitting timely shots, and facilitating the offense. His quick trigger forced the Dubs to overextend and hedge on high ball screens — which offered the Spurs mismatches to exploit. The Aussie’s energy was on full display, and he dished out five assists with one a single turnover.
- Tony Parker abused an outmatched Quinn Cook in the pick and roll. The two man game he played with Aldridge torched Golden State during a second quarter surge that saw the Spurs lead balloon to 17. When Tony’s jumper is falling it ignites the rest of his game. He is at a stage in his career where he may only be able to sustain it in bursts, but those 15 minutes off the bench are crucial for a second unit that is desperate for offense.
- Pau Gasol continues to quietly have a good series. He had a big corner three in the second quarter that got the crowd going, facilitated the ball well in the high post, and did a nice job on the glass. Because of his liabilities defensively, he can only be played in short stretches, however he has consistently hurt Golden State’s second unit.
- I would still like to see more out of Danny Green. The veteran’s effort has never been in question (see his defense on Klay Thompson in the 4th quarter as proof), but one 2-for-5 game does not a hot streak make. His recent cold streak along with the difficulties he’s had guarding the taller Kevin Durant, and you’ve got a situation where one of your key contributors has become unplayable in stretches.
- For the first time this series, Dejounte Murray and Kyle Anderson played up to the standard we saw them reach during the regular season. Consequently, The Spurs looked like a brand new team offensively. On top of the solid defense and rebounding that has become the norm, Murray made the Warriors pay from deep and knocked down three treys on the day — without a miss. Anderson on the other hand looked like a completely different player. The passiveness that has plagued him was gone. Often getting the ball kicked to him after a failed double team on Aldridge, Anderson attacked a scrambling GSW defense and sliced his way into the lane. He still had some blunders defensively, as Durant feasted on the third year forward on a couple of possessions, but this was an enormous game for Kyle. He not only doubled his scoring output from the last 3 games, but appeared to regain his confidence in the process. He will continue to play a pivotal role if he keeps this up.
- In a season that has seen him make multiple game winners and perform excellently in clutch moments, Manu Ginobili delivered one of his best performances of the season. The international legend attained Maximum Argentine Level yet again Sunday afternoon. Whether it was manipulating the defense in the pick and roll, taking charges in the lane, diving for loose balls, or burying timely threes, Ginobili flashed a bit of everything. The future hall of famer continues to give his teammates, coaches, and city every ounce he has left. Cherish every minute he steps on the floor, Spurs fans, because there will never be another #20.
- Rudy Gay’s energy helped spark the Spurs initial run in the first half. His versatility offensively gave the Spurs a huge boost, as the Warriors did not have an answer for him early on. He faded a bit down the stretch and had some struggles from midrange, but his ability to attack the rim off the bounce devastated GSW at times. If he can get going from outside the lane, the Silver and Black may have a puncher’s chance to sneak out of Oracle Arena with a victory.