THIS is what we—or perhaps just me—was expecting from the San Antonio Spurs all series. The suffocating defense on Stephen Curry, the inability of a hobbled Andrew Bogut to stop the paint runs, the legion of wing shooters to shoot, and a Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili wreaking havoc through penetration was supposed to win this thing in five. The Spurs were supposed to dominant in this fashion all series, flummoxing a young up-and-coming team in the Warriors that simply wasn't able to step up in the moment (sorry for Rick-Rolling that song).
The first four games didn't play out this way as the Warriors outplayed them in nearly three out of four games, but the Parker-led Spurs finally broke through behind an excellent performance from Ginobili and unexpectedly, Danny Green.
I'm hesitant to say the Spurs won this solely because of their excellent play—because I'd be stoking the ire of fans on this page but also because that's relatively inaccurate—but there weren't too many significant adjustments they made that appeared to be series-changing. The difference? The Spurs, namely Kawhi Leonard, Green and Ginobili hit the wide-open shots they were missing in Game 4.
Part of that was the suffocating Warriors' defense that probably played a part in their struggles—assuredly causing a bit of hesitance and pressure in a crazed home atmosphere, but it didn't happen in Game 5 when the Spurs came out shooting 60+ percent in the first quarter. And the part where Bogut swallowed up rebounds and contested every shot? Didn't happen. Or Curry nailing a couple big threes to stem the tide? Nope.
And on the other side of the token, I'm hesitant to say the Warriors lost this but they didn't so much mentally break down against the Spurs as they physically broke down. Earlier in the day, Curry proclaimed himself feeling much better but he wasn't the same after a spry first five minutes. The doubles off the pick-and-rolls and the multiple screens per defensive possession he had to run through got him visibly frustrated throughout. Later in the third quarter, Curry was so frustrated he threw a no-look pass out of a double-team over his head, turning into a turnover and a layup for the Spurs.
Bogut tweaked his ankle again and while he came back to start the second half, wasn't the same as Parker repeatedly blew by him and he didn't sniff double digits in rebounds or compete any drives.
Meanwhile, Barnes and Thompson were polar opposites after a long Game 4; with Barnes showing off several Kobe-esque dribble drives and pump-fakes into pull-ups while Thompson vanished all game, not attempting a single three.
Side note: I wonder what Barnes' statistics are when he works through a pick-and-roll. Most of his shots come through isolation and while he's been effective, it wouldn't hurt to give him other offensive options as it appears the Spurs are happy giving him as many shots as he can take, effectively trying to turn him into a volume shooter.
I've been trying my best to contain my inner Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles, but did you know Harrison Barnes is 20, Klay Thompson is 23 and Stephen Curry is 25—an ode to his spiel on Madison Bumgarner's age and greatness? That's a lot of small numbers wrapped into the core of a promising basketball team. Draymond Green (23) and Brandon Rush (27) round out the rest of a team that's set up to contend for the next 4-5 years.
Parker is 30. The Clippers might lose Chris Paul. The Denver Nuggets are going to lose Andre Iguodala and don't have much after Ty Lawson. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are a combined 59 years old. So what's next? The Warriors' best players are the youngest in the playoffs and here they are fighting tooth and nail into an elimination game on their home court against the Western Conference favorites and a team with three Hall-Of-Famers.
The loaded Western Conference is filled with several aging teams while the Warriors are stacked with several pieces that hasn't played about 300 regular season games between them. The future is bright, and it just so happened the future started sooner than expected. And that's a great thing despite the beatdown they endured tonight.
Ha! Take that, you bloggers! - Jarrett Jack's thought as he pulls up for another 18-footer, probably.