With 7:05 left in the second quarter of Game 1 in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors were in trouble. The Spurs, off to a blazing hot start, had come roaring out of the gates and slapped the Warriors in the face. A hard, meaningful slap. Right in the kisser. So, with 7:05 left in the second quarter, Kawhi Leonard was fouled by David West. He approached the foul line, sank the first shot. Sank the second. The Warriors were down by 25 points. At home. In Game 1.
The score was 46-21.
After the Warriors finished off the Spurs in Game 4, in what could potentially be Manu Ginobili’s last ever game, I had a thought. Huh, what was the final run from that moment? You know, we talk about teams going on runs, we talk about pivotal moments in games, or in series. For example, everyone was talking about how, after Kawhi Leonard went down with injury in that very same Game 1, the Warriors immediately went on an 18-0 run, while outscoring the Spurs by 25 points over the final twenty minutes to win 113-111.
So, not counting that strange, godawful first quarter and a half, what was the final “run” by the Warriors in this series?
Here’s some math: The score was 46-21 after Leonard’s two free throws. The final score was 113-111. That means, from down 25 points, the Warriors went on a 92-65 run over the course of the rest of the game.
Then, Game 2 ended 136-100. Game 3 was 120-108. Game 4 was 129-115.
So, add it all up and from 7:09 in the second quarter of Game 1, the Warriors went on a blistering 477-388 run to close out the Western Conference Finals in a sweep.
From down 25, to up 89 is a 114 point swing!
After the heroic comeback in Game 1, the Warriors won the next three games by an average of 20.6666 points. Man.
Obviously, the Kawhi Leonard injury changed everything, but at 7:09 in the second quarter, something definitely flipped for the Warriors. As Draymond Green said after that game, “It was actually a perfect Game 1. You get punched in the mouth, but yet you can still get the win."
Now, the Warriors sit back and wait to see who they will face in the Finals. Will it be the Isaiah Thomas-less Celtics? Or will they (seems almost inevitable, right?) face the Cavaliers for the third straight year?
No matter who they face, they’ll have to try and safeguard against a sluggish start to Game 1. You thought rest vs. rust was an issue headed into the Western Conference Finals? Yikes. They’ll have had nine whole days off by the time the Finals kick off at 6pm PT on June 1st.
Let’s hope they take the lessons learned from the past series and apply them to the upcoming one, no matter the opponent. Although, a +89 run during any part of the Finals might ensure them a second ride in a balloon platoon through downtown Oakland, regardless of how they play at the beginning of Game 1.