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Analysis: Second-half surge gives the Warriors a 110-97 win and a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Spurs

Six players score in double figures (led by Kevin Durant’s 26 and Klay Thompson’s 19) as the Dubs look to close out this first-round series on Sunday.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After two fairly dominant wins at Oracle Arena, the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs shifted to the AT&T Center on Thursday night for Game 3. Both teams were playing with heavy hearts given the heartbreaking news of the passing of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin.

Yet there was still a game to be played and it was a pivotal one in this series.

If the Warriors were able to get the road victory, they would seize a commanding 3-0 lead and the first round would be for all intents and purposes over. The Spurs, meanwhile, could make things much tougher for the Warriors if they were able to build off of their good first half in Game 2 and feed off of their home crowd to get a victory.

Though the Spurs challenged the Warriors and played well for the game’s first 24 minutes or so, in the end the Warriors had too much talent and earned the 110-97 victory.

Rudy Gay, Tony Parker have strong first half

The Spurs came out of the gate energized and focused, clearly playing with emotion and intensity in honor of their grieving head coach. Rudy Gay scored the first basket of the game, throwing down a thunderous dunk over JaVale McGee as the Spurs raced out to a six-point lead in the first quarter.

Much like Game 2 on Monday, the Spurs played well in the first half of the game. At halftime, the Spurs trailed by just six points and at times it had been closer than that. One player who played well for the Spurs was Tony Parker.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker had his best game of the playoffs thus far but it wasn’t enough to give the Spurs a win over the Warriors.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Taking advantage of the young and inexperienced Quinn Cook, Parker looked rejuvenated in the second quarter, scoring 8 of his 16 points during that frame. Parker and Gay (who scored 10 points in the first half) led the way for the Spurs as played the Warriors close for half of Thursday night’s game. However, it would not last and the Spurs saw a close game turn non-competitive in fairly short order.

Early three-point shooting woes hold the Dubs back

While the Spurs kept pace with the Warriors in part because they were playing well, it also had a great deal to do with the Warriors’ three-point shooting woes.

After shooting 48.4% from three-point range in Game 2, the Warriors struggled from distance to start Game 3. In the first half, they shot 9.1% from three-point range, which is remarkably abysmal especially for such a great-shooting team like the Warriors.

The Warriors didn’t make their first three-pointer of the game until there was just a little over two minutes left in the first half, when Klay Thompson finally knocked one down.

Though they still led at halftime and were making their shots from two-point range at a pretty consistent rate (51.2% in the first half), their lack of success from long distance allowed the Spurs to stay in this game.

Whether the Spurs would steal the game or the Warriors would take care of business was most likely going to be determined by whether those three-point shooting struggles continued into the second half.

A much better second half for Thompson, Warriors

Those aforementioned three-point shooting struggles? Yeah, they didn’t continue in the second half. The Warriors seized control of the game and steadily pulled away from the Spurs in the third and fourth because those shots from long distance started to go in.

After shooting 25% from three-point range in the first half, Thompson found his shooting stroke from Game 2 and made both of his three-pointers in the second half. One of those came on this wild sequence that featured quite a few Warriors offensive rebounds as well.

Thompson finished Thursday night’s game with 19 points, second-most to Kevin Durant’s 26 points. Durant finished Thursday night’s game with a near triple-double, grabbing 9 rebounds and handing out 6 assists to go with those 26 points.

Unlike Thompson, Durant’s three-point shooting never really got on track as he shot 16% from long distance in Game 3. Durant’s three-pointer hasn’t been falling this postseason, but he’s been making up for it with his all-around play (passing and rebounding) as well as by getting to the free-throw line (going seven for seven on Thursday night).

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 26 points, while also grabbing 9 rebounds and handing out 6 assists in the Warriors 110-97 victory over the Spurs.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It’s only a matter of time before Durant gets back in a good three-point shooting rhythm. When he does, it will make the Warriors even tougher to beat. One would imagine that whenever Stephen Curry returns to the Warriors lineup, Durant will start getting better looks from beyond the arc and he’ll see that shooting percentage go up.

Solid minutes from Looney

In addition to getting their three-pointers to start falling, another reason for the Warriors’ victory over the Spurs was the play of Kevon Looney. Looney’s defense in particular was great in his 22 minutes of playing time, as he tallied 3 steals and 1 block.

Looney only scored four points in Thursday night’s win but boasted an impressive plus/minus, as he was a +17 in Game 3. That was by far the best of any bench player and second only to Durant on the Warriors. McGee was the standout big man in Games 1 and 2 but on Thursday night it was Looney’s time to shine.

Some ankle-related scares

There were a couple of moments that had the Warriors and their fans holding their breath at the end of Thursday night’s game. The first came when Durant rolled his left ankle after diving for the ball on a Patty Mills steal attempt.

Though it looked bad, Durant walked off under his own power and seemed to be OK. The second scare came shortly after when Shaun Livingston rolled his left ankle as well while being fouled by Mills. After making his free throws, Livingston exited the game.

Asked about it in his postgame interview, head coach Steve Kerr did not seem to be concerned at all.

Durant confirmed this in his postgame comments as well.

Luckily, both ankle tweaks/sprains do not appear to be serious and both the team and the fans can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Warriors will look to close out the Spurs on Sunday afternoon, giving them a chance to rest and heal before starting their second-round playoff series.


Who was your Game 3 Warrior Wonder?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Draymond Green
    (146 votes)
  • 18%
    Kevin Durant
    (64 votes)
  • 9%
    Klay Thompson
    (32 votes)
  • 6%
    Shaun Livingston
    (23 votes)
  • 19%
    Kevon Looney
    (66 votes)
  • 2%
    Andre Iguodala
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Quinn Cook
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    David West
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (answer in the comments please)
    (3 votes)
347 votes total Vote Now

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