After a heartbreaking loss in Game 1, and a convincing victory in Game 2, the Golden State Warriors come back to Oracle Arena with the series tied at 1-1 against the San Antonio Spurs
The Warriors come off a record-breaking Game 2, ending the 30-game losing streak in San Antonio since 1997. The last time the Warriors won in San Antonio, rookie Harrison Barnes was only a few months old and Tim Duncan was still playing at Wake Forest.
The Warriors proved that they could recover from the breakdown that occurred in the last four minutes of Game 1, albeit not completely without similar mistakes, as they allowed the Spurs to get back into the game near the end of the fourth quarter. Now with the momentum from Game 2, Golden State brings the tied series back to arguably the greatest homecourt advantage in the NBA.
1) The Rise of Draymond Green
The 6’7’’ forward has been the key to Mark Jackson’s successful small ball lineup. From Playing 38 minutes in Game 1 to starting in Game 2, Green has proved himself a reliable assest in the lineup.
Although the Michigan State rookie shot poorly in Game 2 (2-for-8 from the field), he provided an otherwise stellar statline with seven rebounds, five assists and one block in 33 minutes of play.
Green has proven that he can start and perform in the spotlight.
2) The Fall of Harrison Barnes
Though “fall” might be a little presumptuous, Harrison Barnes did not play well in Game 2. In fact, he did not even have a good game, shooting just 5-for-14 from the field and missing all five of his attempts from beyond the arc.
The University of Northern Carolina rookie used to be Mark Jackson’s go-to small power forward, but now that role has rotated to the taller and beefier Draymond Green.
Although the Warriors still managed to win Game 2, if Barnes plays well, they could’ve very well blown out the Spurs on their home court
X-Factor: Klay Thompson
Speaking of broken records, Klay Thompson’s 29 points in one half in Game 2 are the most by any player against Gregg Popovich’s Spurs in the playoffs. Not only has Thompson proved himself a potent offensive threat, he also demonstrated his prowess as an on-ball defender, and has been a key factor in limiting veteran point guard Tony Parker’s production.
The Sophomore swingman contributes on offense and defense, and he provides the deadly double threat to the Spurs’ defense; a lights-out shooter who can put the ball down and drive to the hoop. Probably the most astounding stat from Wednesday’s game was Thompson’s 14 rebounds, showing he can also crash the glass.
Projected Starting Lineups
Golden State: Stephen Curry, PG; Klay Thompson, SG; Harrison Barnes, SF; Draymond Green, PF; Andrew Bogut, C
San Antonio Spurs: San Antonio: Tony Parker, PG; Danny Green, SG; Kawhi Leonard, SF; Tim Duncan, PF;Tiago Splitter, C
Injury Report (ESPN.com)
Warriors: David Lee (torn hip flexor, day-to-day)
How the Warriors Can Win:
1) The Splash Brothers Find Their Stroke
In the Game 2 victory, Stephen Curry had an uncharacteristically poor shooting performance going 7-for-20 from the field, and much of his offensive slack was picked up by Klay Thompson.
Curry shot 7-for-20 another time during the playoffs, Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets. He redeemed his poor performance that game by going 13-for-23 the very next game.
Now imagine a scenario where they both catch fire. If Klay can keep up his performance from last game (35 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 87.5 percent from downtown), the Spurs don’t stand a chance. Even Popovich quipped, “I thought it was polite of them to at least take turns and not both be on fire on the same night.”
2) Limit Turnovers
If I could chose one stat that encapsulates the difference between Game 1 and Game 2 it would be turnovers. The Warriors turned over the ball an astronomical 21 times in Game 1. The Warriors cut that number my more than half and only committed ten turnovers in Game 2.
If Golden State can prevent the carelessness that caused them to blow their double-digit lead in Game 1, and nearly lose in Game 6 of the Denver Nuggets Series and Game 2 of this series, they have a much better chance of beating San Antonio, a team that can, and will, capitalize on those turnovers.
The Warriors come into this game with momentum and homecourt advantage, and they have proved that their fate is not tied to just one player. The Spurs would be 0-2 right now if not for a series of lapses in Game 1 that seem for the most part to have been fixed. Though no smart basketball fan should ever discount or underestimate Popovich, even he seems to find himself at odds with the Warriors’ versatile lineup.
Though the last series and this one are certainly not analogous, they both have their striking similarities, as the Dubs lost the first game of the last series at the Nuggets home, steal the second game, and subsequently win the next two games at home. I believe, and we believe, in the Warriors.
Prediction: Warriors 110, Spurs 98