Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry did not see the floor at all in the series, as he is still rehabbing a sprained MCL. Spurs’ star swingman Kawhi Leonard was shut down for the season during the series due to a lingering (and mysterious) quadriceps injury after no playoff minutes and nine games total in a lost season.
Both teams knew they would be without their respective stars for the series, so arguably the biggest loss came when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced the passing of his wife, Erin. Assistant coach Ettore Messina took over the last three games of the series while Popovich was away from the team.
Before we move onto any actual analysis of the series, thoughts and condolences to the Popovich family.
Golden State Warriors Beat San Antonio Spurs in Five Games
First-Round Playoff Stats
GSW starters – Andre Iguodala (7.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 41.2 percent on threes), Klay Thompson (22.6 / 3.0 / 2.8 / 51.6 percent on threes), Kevin Durant (28.2 / 8.6 / 5.2 / 63.3 percent on twos), Draymond Green (11.4 / 11.2 / 8.0 / 1.4 steals / 1.0 blocks), JaVale McGee (8.4 / 5.2 / 0.8 / 64.3 percent on twos)
SAS starters – Dejounte Murray (7.8 / 4.2 / 1.8 / 66.7 percent on threes), Patty Mills (13.4 / 2.0 / 2.6 / 37.1 percent on threes), Danny Green (4.2 / 2.2 / 0.2 / 25 percent on threes), Rudy Gay (12.2 / 5.6 / 2.2 / 46.8 percent on twos), LaMarcus Aldridge (23.6 / 9.2 / 2.4 / 46 percent overall)
For the defending champion Warriors:
No one (not even me) thought that veteran Andre Iguodala would start every game at Curry’s point guard spot. After a pretty rough regular season, Iguodala showed that he was just saving his abilities for the playoffs. Teams are leaving him open behind the three-point line for a reason. If he can hover around 37 percent from three, watch out.
To the other backcourt spot. KLAY THOMPSON WAS COOKING. Thompson, who has struggled throughout the year with Curry off the floor, torched San Antonio’s defenders. His hot hand needs to continue if the Dubs are without the best shooter of all time for much longer.
Kevin Durant acted as a calming force for a team that, at times, looked kind of lost offensively. He scored at will from inside the arc, taking full advantage of guards getting switched onto him (RIP Patty Mills). Somehow, he only shot 25 percent from three for the series, many of which were open.
- JaVale McGee outplayed Aldridge in Game 1, looking as close to the idealized version of himself as possible.
- Draymond Green had a massive impact on defense, and he was able to control games without shooting efficiently (35.7 percent overall, 28.6 percent from three).
- Shaun Livingston packed a nice scoring punch off the bench (9.6 points on 51.4 percent overall).
For the San Antonio Spurs:
LaMarcus Aldridge played a really good series (despite my McGee-related bullet point.) His scoring stayed where it was during the regular season, on decent efficiency. He rebounded the ball well and did not turn it over on his endless mid-range post-ups. Despite the lopsided series, the San Antonio star played about as well as could have hoped.
A big observation: Danny Green, formerly a knockdown shooter, is objectively bad on offense now. His efficiency has been sub-40 percent overall for the last three years. For the series, he shot just 26.7 percent overall and 25 percent from three (insert sad face). He has a player option for next season, and it might be time to find greener pastures.
- Dejounte Murray looked hesitant. Warrior defenders routinely left him all alone behind the three-point arc. He took six threes for the series and made four of them (a pretty good percentage). He has all the tools on defense, so hopefully, his offense takes a step forward this off-season. Also of note: He’s only 21 years old.
- It was very nice to see some flashes of the in-their-prime versions of both Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. One, if not both could retire this off-season, and they are legendary figures from the Popovich era.
- Rudy Gay looked bouncy with a couple of poster dunks in the series. It’s good to see some athleticism post-Achilles injury.
Why the series went the way it did
Talent differential, really. In a match-up where both teams are offensively challenged, the team with more individual scoring talent usually wins. The Spurs had no match for the exploits of Durant and Thompson.
On the other end, starting Iguodala in Curry’s absence allowed the Warriors to dominate on defense. With four players who can conceivably switch across all positions, Golden State stifled anything the Spurs wanted to do offensively.
In Game 4 (the only Spurs win), the Spurs shot an otherworldly percentage from three-point range (15-for-28) and rode the energy of the home crowd to a win. For the whole series, the Spurs shot less than 30 percent from deep.
What’s Up Next
The Warriors advance to their second-round series against the red-hot New Orleans Pelicans, who are fresh off of a shocking sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. Everyone will be watching how the Dubs fare against MVP candidate/destroyer of worlds Anthony Davis. Plus, Curry should be back soon.
For San Antonio, the future is a little dicier. The team can offer Leonard the supermax this offseason (five years, $219 million), but there is reportedly a disconnect between him and the organization. Would the Spurs want to trade their (possibly) malcontent star and begin a rebuild? Time will tell.
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