With their season once again on the line, the San Antonio Spurs took the floor inside Oracle Arena and went to war with the defending champs. For the fourth straight game, this team battled for 48 minutes, leaving every ounce of effort they had on the floor.
In the face of certain defeat, they scoffed. Down three games to one and playing inside a raucous environment on the road, no one would have faulted this group for mailing it in. Instead they rallied together and nearly shocked the world.
The Warriors led for majority of the night, however the Silver and Black always had an answer and stayed within striking distance. Behind a relentless fourth quarter surge by Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs climbed within 2 with under a minute to go. Then KD saved Golden State’s bacon. If it was not for Kevin Durant playing out of his mind in the final frame, this thing was heading back to San Antonio for a game 6 that the ‘Dubs wanted no part of.
The San Antonio Spurs have won 5 championships in my lifetime, yet this is one of my favorite teams ever. No matter how outgunned they were or what obstacles they encountered, they continued to fight. The pride, passion, and resiliency this team carried with them throughout this roller coaster of a season should be celebrated. There will be lots of difficult decisions , but in the mean time San Antonio can take pride in the way this bunch represented the Alamo City.
- LaMarcus Aldridge might be the best big man in the game today. The 6 time all star put on a clinic. The two man game between he and Ginobili sliced through the Warriors’ interior defense in the second half, and ignited Aldridge’s jumper. What I most appreciated about LA’s night was his demeanor. When his jumper wasn’t falling early, he didn’t pout or keep jacking up contested fadeaways. Instead he put his head down, attacked the rim, and got to the free throw line.
- As Aldridge thrived, Rudy Gay struggled. The Spurs flashiest free agent signing had difficulties, especially in mid-range where he had six of his nine misses. The looks were solid, and on a team like this that struggles to score points, he had to take them; but his inability to knock down shots really hurt an already-handcuffed offense. Defensively, I was pleased with his effort. His length caused Durant issues for stretches and his positioning improved as the series went on.
- Kyle Anderson may have hit double digits on the stat sheet while making all five of his shots, but his three turnovers without a single assist are a big part of his story. In fact, he looked lost for majority of this series -- like he lost his identity. His post ups, floaters, and midrange jumpers all but disappeared. Defensively, I thought this was his best game of the series. He bodied Durant up, used his length to disrupt his crossover, and played physically.
- This might have been Danny Green’s worst playoff game as a Spur. He barely drew iron on a plethora of open looks, and defensively he was abused by Klay Thompson. Although he typically excels at battling through screens, the former Tarheel seemed to always be a few steps behind and it cost his team dearly.
- Patty Mills might have had a tough time defensively, but on offense the Aussie gunner carried this team in stretches. He didn’t have a perfect night, but kept the offense from going into a coma more than once. After knocking down a few treys in the pick and roll, he started to attack the rim and exploited an adjusted GSW defense. It’s been a tough year for Patty, but his confidence and energy never wavered.
- Between Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, and Dejounte Murray there was a quiet sense of disappointment in their performance. The trio all had a couple of moments where it looked like they were about to turn it around (TP’s floater in the second quarter, Pau’s dime to Anderson in the fourth, and Dejounte’s tenacious effort on the boards), but none of them could sustain it.
- Yet again, Manu Ginobili was magnificent. The pick and roll maestro carved his way through the defense like it was 2005. Interim head coach Ettore Messina did a fantastic job spacing out his minutes and was able to save his 40 year old play-maker until the final frame. That fourth quarter was vintage Ginobili.