The Golden State Warriors overwhelmed the San Antonio Spurs in Texas, 110-97. This win gives the defending champions a 3-0 series lead. This is also the seventh straight postseason win for the Warriors over a decaying dynasty that had once dominated the Bay’s team for the majority of the last two decades.
Spurs head coach and leader Gregg Popovich was not in the AT&T Center, as he was grieving the tragic loss of his dear wife of 40 years, Erin. Coach Popovich has spent 26 years with the San Antonio franchise, and his family has had a major impact on that city and organization. Little known fact: “Pop” is also a Warriors alumni, as he was an assistant coach under the great Golden State guru Don Nelson for two seasons in the mid-90s.
With the NBA grieving Popovich’s loss, the epicenter of the league’s pain centered in San Antonio. This was the Spurs first home game in the 2018 playoffs, trailing 0-2 in the series to the Golden Empire. With their backs against their wall coming into Game 3, odds were that the Spurs were going to unleash a heavily emotional effort in tribute to Pop. Not to mention, they had an impressive 33-8 record in their building during the regular season, good enough for 3rd best in the league.
Spurs heavy hearts + fighting for their playoff lives + home game = danger for the Warriors.
If there was ever a trap game for the Stephen Curry-less Warriors, this was it.
The Spurs came out fired up as expected. This was their first play of the game:
The champs were in for a fight. Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston carried the offensive load, scoring 17 and 8 respectively in the first half. Bizarrely, the Warriors didn’t hit a three pointer until Klay Thompson laced one in transition with two minutes left in the first half. The champs missed their first nine attempts from distance, finishing the half 1-for-11.
With 5:44 remaining in the second quarter, the Warriors trailed 39-34 in a sloppy game. Kevon Looney entered the game for Javale McGee, and the Warriors immediately locked the Spurs directly into Alcatraz. Looney’s defensive activity repeatedly stymied the elderly but feisty Manu Ginobili on switches, and the young fella protected the rim like a supercharged, robotic sentinel. Looney’s non-stop effort left him wheezing for air, and energized the champions to close on an 18-7 run.
Warriors go 1-of-11 from 3 in the first half, but lead by 6 because they're 20-of-30 on 2s, 9/9 at FT line and only have 4 turnovers.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 20, 2018
Warriors 52, Spurs 46. The fact that the Warriors led despite their three-point targeting system malfunction did not bode well for the grieving San Antonio Spurs.
Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala immediately activated “Deep Blue Splash”, banging back-to-back triples to start the third quarter. Those two were the players the Spurs were baiting into long-distance attempts, and their deep buckets sparked the Warriors to regain their shooting swag in the period.
The Warriors made 5-of-11 of their deep bombs in the third, and the Spurs were submerged deep into the Splash. San Antonio could find no offensive footing against the stingy defense, and their fans could only watch helplessly as the Warriors pushed a double-digit advantage.
1st half dubs went 1-for-11 from three— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) April 20, 2018
3rd quarter dubs went 5-for-11 from three
GSW - 84
SA - 72 pic.twitter.com/tOJHtvODsW
The champs entered the fourth quarter up 84-72. A backbreaking sequence early in the final frame featured multiple Dubs offensive rebounds and ledto Thompson drilling a shot from 20,000 leagues under the sea. It effectively ripped the Spurs heart out of their silver-and-black chests, and let the fans know it was time to start trying to beat that traffic.
If at first you don’t succeed pic.twitter.com/S5sFIxetKX— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) April 20, 2018
You know what they say about the Splash Family: when it rains, it pours. The game seemed to be coasting to an easy end, until Durant and Livingston suffered back to back ankle tweaks on plays involving the defense of a desperate (reckless) Patty Mills.
Durant stayed on the floor for a couple moments before walking off with no noticeable limp. Livingston staggered around a bit, made some free throws, and promptly limped to the locker room. In either case, not good sights at the end of a blowout win.
The game mercifully ended without anyone else losing a limb.
Warriors shot 51% from the field, making 10-of-32 from distance. They limited the Spurs to 41% from the field, and 7-of-33 from downtown. Both teams had 10 turnovers. Durant finished with 26 points, Thompson had 19, and Livingston scored 16. Lamarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 18 points, while Tony Parker had a flashback evening with 16 points of his own.
Wellp, no team has ever overcome a 3-0 playoff deficit. I predicted a sweep; obviously I’m expecting this to get wrapped up on Sunday in San Antonio.
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