As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Golden State Warriors needed to find a way to outscore the Spurs early on in order to win this game. They did just that last night in the Oracle Arena.
In the first half alone, the Warriors outscored the Spurs 72-44. Thirty of these points for the Warriors came from Steph Curry (19 points) and Kevin Durant (11 points). Curry shot 71% from three-point territory in this half and got four rebounds as well.
That’s not to say the Spurs were lacking in offense in the first half. Jonathon Simmons led the Spurs in first-half scoring with 17 points, making 64% of his field goal attempts, and got two rebounds.
The problem with the Spurs in the first half, which would only get worse in the second half, was effectively guarding key Warriors players. All too often, the Spurs’ defense allowed players like Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson to have enough space to make three-pointers.
For the first several minutes of the third quarter, it appeared as if the Spurs were on their way to a second-half comeback. The Warriors were not scoring as well during this time and their defense wasn’t as effective as it was in the first half. As a result, the Spurs cut their deficit to just 20 points at one point during this time.
However, as the Warriors got more aggressive in their offense, the Spurs’ defense simply couldn’t catch up and effectively guard the Warriors. At one point, the Spurs trailed the Warriors by 41 points in the fourth quarter. The Warriors ended up beating the Spurs with a score of 136-100.
Curry had a good performance, scoring 29 points in this game. So did Simmons, who scored 22 points.
Any weaknesses that were present in this game were on the part of the Spurs. This team is simply not the same without Kawhi Leonard. If Leonard gets the OK to suit up for Game 3 on Saturday night, the Spurs should be able to have a much better game than what was on display last night. The Spurs may even have a chance to win this series if Leonard can play for the remainder of the series. However, if Leonard cannot play on Saturday, the Spurs have a minimal chance at winning this series, and a sweep by the Warriors would then look very likely.
If I were the Warriors, and Leonard does in fact play on Saturday, I would make absolutely sure that I play this game as aggressively as these last two games in the series. The last thing the Warriors want is to blow a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals and allow the Spurs to make an improbable (but not impossible) comeback and win this series.