The Golden State Warriors’ house of horrors continues to haunt the franchise. Not since February 1997 — a year before Tim Duncan was drafted, when current MVP Stephen Curry was in the third grade — has this team won a regular season contest in San Antonio. On Saturday night in AT&T Center, this current iteration of the Warriors had a golden opportunity to finally end the streak of 32 consecutive losses, but after Klay Thompson’s basket had the team within three points with 2:23 remaining in the fourth, the Spurs went on a game-clinching five-to-nothing run to close out the contest. With the loss, the Warriors’ nightmare streak in Texas continues, but their dream season rolls along at 62-7, 73 wins still firmly in sight.
1) All season long, Warriors’ opponents have regularly consoled themselves after narrow loses for at least playing well against the juggernaut squad. Last night, the Dubs got a taste of the “moral victory” medicine. Short three rotation cogs, on the second-half of a back-to-back and with their All-Star duo back court mired in an 11-of-38 shooting night, the Warriors had every excuse to surrender the game to the Spurs, especially early when the shots weren’t falling. But the Dubs summoned a monster effort on defense (Spurs: 41% FG, 17 TO) and a strong two-way performance from Draymond Green (11 points, 9 boards, 8 assists) to have a chance to steal a victory in the waning minutes of the game. That the Warriors came up short in the end wasn’t a huge surprise given the Dubs’ limitations and that the Spurs are undefeated at home, but that they were competitive throughout the contest speaks volumes about the team’s often overlooked defense, their ability to play any style of basketball and their relentless pursuit to win every damn game.
2) We’ve seen individuals defend Curry well (KCP in the Detroit game comes to mind), but this was the first time all season that I can recall an entire team playing with the kind of disciplined, tenacious effort the Spur showed against Steph last night. When people talk about five-men-on-a-string defense, this is what they mean. The Spurs’s D on Curry was sublime. They got huge individual defensive efforts from Danny Green and Tony Parker, but off pick and rolls at the top and screens underneath the basket, the entire Spurs defense was in sync on switches surrendering zero air space for Steph to break free. And when Steph did have a man one-on-one out at 30 feet, there was always a help defender a step away to impede passing lanes and muddle the zones Steph likes to use for his space creating dribbles. A truly masterful defensive performance by the Spurs.
3) But that’s not to say Steph and the coaching staff won’t figure this out. The Clippers trapping Steph up high with DeAndre Jordan and CP3 used to give the MVP problems too … until he figured it out and forced the Clips to change the game plan.
4) I can’t wait to see the adjustments Kerr will make on offense to account for the Spurs’ scrambling, run-multiple-dudes-at-Steph-
5) Danny Green, a historically good threat from deep, is down to only 33.8% on threes for the season and 38% from the field. I wonder if he won’t get a limited version of the Tony Allen treatment in the playoffs until he proves he has regained his stroke.
6) Kawhi Leonard was dominant (18 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, a million strong defensive plays) despite a poor shooting night (5-14). Does it seem like Kawhi gets every loose ball or is it just me? Does having giant hands help you get to loose balls?
7) You know who probably feels extra good after this win? David West, who gave up $11 million to join the Spurs and have a chance at a championship,
8) James Michael MacAdoo, after a not-so-great night in Dallas, had a strong game against the Spurs’ frontline. Mac had 4 points 1 board and 1 assist in 9 minutes. That one assist? Off a Curry screen-and-roll where he located an open Leandro on the wing, one night after missing Klay on the same play. The young forward learns quickly.
9) The telecast showed an image of Tim Duncan in his college days. It’s amazing, dude looks exactly the same. Even his hairline — usually a clear giveaway for any man trying to defy his age — is exactly the same: his forehead is still the width of 3 horizontally stacked pencils, same as it always was.
10) The Warriors will need to go 11-2 the rest of the season to beat the Bulls’ record. Their toughest remaining games are versus the Clips, Blazers, and two against the Spurs. Nine of the final 13 are in Oakland. After the dogged effort versus the Spurs, I wouldn’t put anything past these Warriors, not even a record 73 wins.