Spurs' Positives Heading Into Game 2
The San Antonio Spurs suffered one of its most crushing playoff defeats in recent memory when they squandered a 25-point lead in a 113-111 loss to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors went on a remarkable 18-0 run in the 3rd quarter when Kawhi Leonard left the game with an ankle injury and would not return. Without their leader for the second time this postseason, the Spurs were unable to close the gap and suffered one of the worst playoff losses in the last 15 years. The Spurs were up 78-55 when Leonard left the game, but were outscored by Golden State 58-33 the rest of the way.
Instead of dwelling on the worst possible start for the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, let’s look at the positives they can take from Game 1 and apply them to how they can take control of this series. The first thing people must remember is that the Spurs can win without Kawhi Leonard. Just a few days ago, every media outlet was praising the Spurs for their ability to close out the Houston Rockets without Leonard. Now without him, no one is giving them a shot to win this series. The Spurs play team basketball and will find a way to exploit Golden State’s size difference as the series goes on just as they did in Game 1.
Another bright spot in Game 1 of this series was the continued resurgence of Lamarcus Aldridge. Aldridge led all Spurs with 28 points and 8 rebounds in 40 minutes of work. Without Leonard on the floor, the Spurs were able to run the offense through Aldridge and get him enough touches to find a groove shooting. He went 11-24 from the floor and did most of his damage from posting up and calling for the ball. If they are to stand any chance in Game 2, they must keep him involved and make Golden State defend the paint.
The last positive that the Spurs can take from Game 1 against the Warriors was their ability to shut down shooting guard Klay Thompson. Many people will look at the box score and say Steph Curry and Kevin Durant scored a combined 74 points, but if Thompson had any offensive production, then this could have been a blowout loss for the Spurs. He went just 2-9 from the floor, and scored just six points. Someone’s shot total had to suffer with Durant and Curry taking 47 total shots from the floor, so Thompson didn’t have the impact most people watching would have expected. If the Spurs can watch the film on how they defended Klay Thompson and apply it to Durant or Curry, then they might have a chance at winning Game 2.
Golden State is now a perfect 9-0 during this year’s postseason and just barely survived its first scare. The San Antonio Spurs were the first team to consistently pour it on for three quarters against the Warriors and had it not been for an ankle injury than we may be having a different conversation. Gregg Popovich will have his men ready to play Tuesday night, let’s just hope they have enough fight left in them to end the Warrior’s undefeated streak and contend for the West’s spot in the NBA Finals.