Wednesday night in San Antonio, the Spurs performed surgery on the Warriors. Routine Surgery.
San Antonio cruised to an easy victory 111-90 against Golden State, and extended their current win streak to 19 games, currently tied for the 6th longest in NBA history.
Coming off perhaps their most emotional win of the season against the Mavericks in overtime on Tuesday night, the Warriors (46-29) found themselves on the wrong of end of a back-to-back against the hottest team in the league. It didn’t help that three of the Warrior’s starters were all out with injury in Andre Iguodala, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut.
The Spurs (59-16) were masterful in the 1st quarter, cutting up the Warrior’s defense with superior passing and execution, taking advantage of the Warrior’s lack of big men inside. Jermaine O’neal started but played only four minutes, leaving the inside to Mo Speights and Hilton Armstrong, a newcomer on a ten-day contract to fill in for Bogut and Lee. Tim Duncan had a field day, scoring 12 points on 6-7 shooting in the first period.
As the game went on, it was clear that the Warrior’s focus just wasn’t there. When the Warriors aren’t hitting shots on offense, their focus on defense becomes lacking. In the 2nd quarter after a slew of missed shots, the Golden State became lazy: slapping at the ball resulting in and-one fouls and losing their man on back door cuts for easy layups.
In a game like this, you want to see some of your players not named Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson step up and take some of the scoring burden with three of your starters out. You have to credit both Draymond Green and Jordan Crawford, as they seemed to be the only ones to have any energy or passion Wednesday, providing much needed, albeit superfluous sparks off the bench.
The one reserve player the Warriors will need to play well if they are going to advance past the first round in the playoffs is Harrison Barnes. Barnes field goal shooting in March was 29.6% (the lowest in the NBA). After missing three straight three-pointers in the 3rd quarter, Harrison began passing up wide open looks to drive into traffic and throw up contested shots. He’ll need to return to last year’s form if the Warrior’s bench unit has any hope of supporting the starters.
In the 3rd quarter, the Warriors started the heat up and make some of their open threes and force the Spurs into some difficult shots, at one point reducing the lead to seven with 4:30 remaining. But just as quickly as the Warriors closed the gap, the Spurs opened it back up to 20 points to end the quarter. At points during the 4th quarter, San Antonio was up by as much as 26, and Mark Jackson put the subs in and began looking forward to Friday in Oakland against a feisty Sacramento Kings team.
After the critical win in Dallas Tuesday and with three starters out, this loss can be forgiven. But it still hurts to get beat by 21, even to the Spurs.