There are two different type of blowout losses: the ones that are worthless and the ones that help you get better. While I'm sure many Spurs fans are surely ready to burn the tape of the team's 30-point destruction at the hands of the Warriors, there are things to be learned from it. So before moving on, let's take a closer look at what happened.
Before even starting, there's something that needs to be clear: the Warriors earned that win. They were the better team by a wide margin. Pointing out Spurs' mistakes is not meant to take anything away from a great win by their opponent.
Having said that, there were instances in which San Antonio played poorly that had little to do with the Warriors. Let's explore those instances.
The Spurs weren't ready from the start and paid the price
The strangest thing about the game was seeing a battle-tested Spurs squad not coming out ready to play against an opponent that they knew was deadly. Everyone on the team except for Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons has playoff experience, which makes the fact that the Spurs seemed nervous during a regular season game very odd.
Not only was the offense stuck in mud, with the players moving without purpose, but there were also silly mistakes.
Calling a turnover "unforced" is always tricky, because the defense typically does something that has an effect on the play. Green plays good post defense, Curry is so disruptive that Patty Mills was probably worried about a steal and the Warriors got back on defense on those three plays.
Yet the mistakes are still uncharacteristic of the Spurs. Almost every single one of the eight first-quarter turnovers -- which you can watch here -- came as the of someone missing the mark on close passes or forcing the issue. There were rushed shots early in the shot clock, as well.
Turning the ball over and not controlling the pace are a problem against all teams but against the Warriors they are a death sentence. The Spurs surely know that. Yet they let nerves get the best of them and it got them into a hole early on.
The Spurs missed Tim Duncan
Having Duncan available wouldn't have changed the end result, in all likelihood. It was a 30-point spanking, after all. That doesn't mean the Spurs wouldn't have been better off with Big Fun anchoring the defense. The Warriors outscored San Antonio 32-18 in the paint in the first half in no small part because the Spurs had David West playing center.
In an attempt to prevent three-pointers, the Spurs played shooters close and try to deny them the ball whenever possible. It worked, as the Warriors took just 10 threes in the first half, but doing that left them susceptible to back cuts. Golden State made a killing on those, taking advantage of the fact that West is not used to handling the duties of a rim protector.
It's not West's fault, really. He did great on offense and did what he could on defense but he's always played power forward and his responsibilities were different at that position. He's used to sticking to his man and watching out for screening action on the weak side, not playing free safety. On most games he does a good enough job of providing help defense but the Spurs were playing extra aggressively on this one, not only denying the ball but sending Leonard to double.
LaMarcus Aldridge is better than West at that job, so he should have been the one doing it, even if he doesn't enjoy it. He's still not as good as Duncan, who is a savant when it comes to sussing out what's misdirection and what's real and timing the moments in which he helps.
Duncan wouldn't have been able to stop the Warriors from burning the Spurs on backdoor cuts. They are fantastic at scoring off them .Having him around, however, would have given San Antonio a better defensive anchor to aid on its aggressive strategy.
It took a great game by the Warriors to blow out the Spurs
The Spurs failed to control the pace and coughed the ball up eight times against a deadly transition team and trailed only by five after the first quarter. The mistakes continued and they couldn't contain Golden State's offense in the half court without playing über aggressively and getting punished for it. It still was a 15-game at the half, just a good run away from being a competitive affair. Until the Curry takeover in the third quarter, the Spurs were being outplayed but not destroyed despite not being at their best.
The Warriors are better than the Spurs right now. They weren't lucky to beat them. They used the same weapons they always use. Yet because San Antonio was uncharacteristically sloppy and missing a key piece to make the defensive game plan work, there's reason to be optimistic that the real gap between the two teams is not 30 points. If they tighten up their execution and learn from Monday's game, the Spurs could make a series against Golden State competitive.
As painful as the blowout was, it didn't show a problem that is impossible to fix. The Spurs have months before facing the Warriors again. Let's hope they can be a better version of themselves when the time comes.