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Game 5 Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors

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Can Game 4 momentum break the Spurs road losing streak and bring the series back to SA?

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Psst . . . Over here. Wanna know a secret? Strong defense coupled with good shooting is a pretty good recipe for a W. Sure, it’s not easy — like when you’re out-rebounded by 25. But hitting 15 of 28 threes compensates for a lot of inadequacies.

With four Spurs, including LaMarcus “Bankshot” Aldridge, making 3 treys a piece, San Antonio averted a consecutive sweep at the hands of the defending champs and placed Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili atop the list of most NBA playoff wins by a pair of teammates with 132. Now the series heads back to the Bay, with Golden State still in command of a 3-1 series lead. While everyone knows that no NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit, the more imminent challenge for the Spurs will be ending their ten-game road losing streak which began on March 8 in — you wanna guess where? — correct, Oakland.

April 24, 2018 | 9:30 PM CT

Watch: TNT, FSSW | Listen: WOAI

Warriors lead series 3-1

Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (quad) out

Warriors injuries: Stephen Curry (knee) out, Patrick McCaw (back) out

SE HA APLAZADO El GRAN FINALE DE MANU (Manu’s grand finale has been postponed)

Regardless of the outcome of this series, fans will remember Manu Ginobili’s Game 4 performance for his tenacity, acrobatics, and 4th quarter determination reminiscent of earlier years. Can he provide a similar spark on one day’s rest and return for a curtain call? At age 40, that’s challenging though we know he’ll give it his best shot.

SPURS OFFENSE UNOFFENSIVE

Defensively, the Warriors focus on one Spur, LaMarcus Aldridge. The more shoots missed by his teammates, the more double and triple teams he faces. However, two early threes by Dejounte Murray and Danny Green helped adjust this focus and set the tone for a fully engaged Spurs offense that produced better spacing and looks. The Spurs 103-90 win revealed that scoring a ton of points isn’t required even against a high-scoring team like the Warriors. Instead, the key to defeating Golden State resides in the ability to keep them out of transition, especially for an older team like San Antonio. Without the defensive transition prowess of seasons past, limiting opportunities provides the best option. By averaging just 41% shooting, including an abysmal 27% from beyond the arc, in the first three games, the Spurs surrendered so many transition points that the Warriors essentially dictated play against the Spurs, especially late. By shooting 46% in Game 4, including 54% from downtown, the visitors worked much harder for each basket and witnessed their shooting percentage drop precipitously.

MATCHUPS MATTER

With Stephen Curry out, the Warriors have only two of the best shooters in the NBA, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and both contributed significantly to the Warriors 3-0 series lead. While no Spur in uniform can guard Durant, acting coach Ettore Messina decided to start the taller Danny Green on Thompson instead of the fierce but shorter Patty Mills. The result? Even though Durant got his 34, Thompson finished with only 12 on 4 of 16 shooting. Expect Coach Kerr to make some adjustment in Game 5 to help Thompson find space to shoot. However, if Durant remains the Warriors only real offensive threat, this series may return to the Alamo City.

MESSINA TO COACH GAME 5

San Antonio assistant coach Ettore Messina will fill in as acting head coach in Popovich’s absence for the third consecutive game. Messina, a veteran coach of the EuroLeague and current head coach of the Italian national team, is in his fourth season as a Spurs assistant.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Any prediction of a Spurs Game 5 victory would be heart, not head, based. Nonetheless, without Curry this Warrior team remains beatable. If the Spurs shoot well to keep the Warriors out of transition and no one beyond Durant damages the Spurs offensively, we could see a Game 6.


Vegas prediction: Warriors by 11.

Game prediction: Warriors by 7.

For a Warriors fan’s perspective, visit Golden State of Mind.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.