Monday, May 13, 2013

Notes From Game 4: Warriors Evolve Vs The Spurs

Now THIS is a damn series. The storyline: the proud, pedigreed, veteran team of cool professionals was supposed to surgically dispatch the brash, exciting, youthful novices from Oakland in 4 or 5 short games.  This 2nd round match-up was supposed to be nothing more than a tune up for the Spurs as they prepped to battle Memphis in the Western Conference Finals, and an abject lesson in how to take playoff lumps for the Warriors. 16 of the 17 ESPN writers and bloggers chose the Spurs in this series, with 6 of those going with San Antonio in 6.


The Gut Punch game and The Curry Offensive game were fun, but The Consummate Spurs Win in game 3 seemed to restore order in the NBA universe.  But this is supreme improv; the Warriors tore up the script and gave us a series all knotted up 2-2 on Sunday. Budding star Steph Curry gritted through ankle issues and again served notice to the current pantheon of elite point guards that he was among their ranks, and this time he had plenty of help. In stark contrast to how they blew a 16 point lead with 4 minutes remaining in game 1, the Warriors roared back from 8 down with less than 4 minutes left to force overtime, then held the Spurs to a paltry 3 points in OT, gutting out a 97-87 win over the suddenly vulnerable looking Spurs.

Some things from game 4:

  • Games 1 and 2 were the Steph Curry & Klay Thompson Show, with the pair averaging 59.5 ppg on 46-96 fg (47.9%) and draining a scintillating 16-33 from 3. They HAVE to be efficient for the Warrior to beat the Spurs, right? Wrong. Games 3 and 4 saw Curry and Thompson combine for a mortal 32.5 ppg on 24-65 fg (36.9%), but they still were 11-26 (5-12 in game 4) from deep, and GSW earned a 1-1 split over the last 2 games. I don't know if the average fan understands how incredible it is to have your point guard and shooting guard combining to basically  go 7 for 15 from 3 every night against a stout Spurs defense. To put that in perspective, the Spurs limited whole TEAMS to only 6.4 makes from 3 a game (good for 5th lowest in the league) on 35.1%.
  • With their guard duo being less than dynamic, Golden States's rook Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack poured in 50 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.Their counterparts, Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili, combined for 26 points and 6 rebounds. 
  • Paging Gary Neal: Neal was a vital cog in the Spur's offensive machine this year, averaging 9.5 and fearless shooting off the bench, and in game 1, every single one of his 10 points were necessary in the 2 point San Antonio win. Since then? Neal has vanished, putting up 6, 2, and 2 in the last 3 games. 
  • Battle of The Benches: All season, Spurs fans in the Twittersphere bragged about how their bench was a huge advantage over most teams, and they were right; San Antonio's bench produced the 5th most points in the league at 37.8 ppg. The warriors bench was subpar; the 30.5 ppg it posted was a lowly 19th. This series? In the 4 games,  the Dubs 2nd unit has been right in line with it's season scoring average at 29.25 ppg, while the Spurs production has plummeted to 27.5 ppg. 
  • 6th Man Showdown: Manu Ginobili has been known for his daring drives and his elite play as the super sub x-factor, but in this series, Jarrett Jack has held his own off the bench. 
Manu: 15. 3 ppg, 5.5 asts, 4.8 rbs, 36.1%, 32.3 mpg
  Jack: 14.5 ppg, 2.8 asts, 4.0 rbs, 46.0%, 33.8 mpg

  • B.A.T. Breakdown: The Warrior hammered the Spurs on the boards, 65 to 51, so even though GSW had 7 more turnovers (18 to 11), they still won the B.A.T. (Boards + Assists - Turnover) battle 66 to 57. 
  • I can't stress enough what a remarkable job Andrew Bogut is doing on Tim Duncan defensively. Yes, Tim is putting up 21 and 11 a gameon Bogut, but the 41% shooting Bogut is holding him to is well below his career 50% shooting in the playoffs. Even more amazing, GSW was +17 when Bogut was on the floor; SAS was -23 when Tim Duncan was on the floor. Unreal. 
  • Tip the hat performance for Harrison Barnes- 26 pts, 10 rbs. His 17. 5 ppg, 8.3 rbg, and boundless energy in this series are almost as responsible for the Warriors' success against the Spurs as Bogut's defense on Duncan.

Game 5 is on Tuesday the 14th at 9:30 pm PST on TNT


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