After the Golden State Warriors blew a 16-point lead late in Game One of this series, I disagreed with those who said the series was over and thought there were enough good signs there for them to bounce back and compete at least well enough to get to a Game Six.
Yet after last night's loss in Game Five, even though it's hard not to remain positive about the team winning Game Six in Oakland, it's much harder to come away thinking positively.
That was the best performance of the series for the Spurs and it looks like they finally solved some of the problems that were plaguing them against the Warriors. The Warriors just got outplayed by a team that every rational person thought was better entering this series - nothing to be ashamed of, but probably something that we all had to be happy not to see prior to this point.
Coach Nick of BballBreakdown broke down some of the major factors in this game in his video above, beginning with how the Spurs contained Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson:
Kawhi Leonard did a job on Klay Thompson last night and it's clear that he got into the second year guard's head. Coach Nick is absolutely right that Thompson started rushing things and unfortunately never really got into a rhythm.
Stephen Curry's ankle obviously made an impact and, more than anything, I buy the explanation that Curry (and Thompson) just look worn down. Defensively, the Spurs wisely attacked him. Still, what has impressed me most about Curry is his willingness and ability to finish going to the basket. Despite what those who think he's not a real point guard say, his ability to continue to create for others when he's not scoring still means he's valuable to the team and the very threat of him shooting puts pressure on the Spurs defense.
Regardless of what happens in this series, I absolutely agree that each additional game should be taken as valuable experience for this team. The nucleus of Curry, Thompson, and Harrison Barnes could become lethal (especially with Curry's bargain contract leaving room for the other two) and what I've appreciated most about Barnes is that he's gotten better at finding scoring opportunities he can convert on. Even in the loss, Barnes' continued development is a bright spot.
Can the Warriors bounce back from that kind of loss, especially if the Spurs have finally figured out a way to take away their primary scoring options? I would hope - and this is admittedly optimistic - that the adrenaline rush from being in front of a boisterous home crowd helps a bit. And if we accept that, then it comes down to whether the Warriors can get hot for one more game in San Antonio in a potential Game Seven, if it were to come to that point.
A lot will depend on Curry's ankle, but if he can even distribute the way he did last night while Thompson can get hot the Warriors still have a chance.