Posted on May 17, 2017, by Travis Pulver
There is no denying it. This game sucked. It was terrible. It was probably the worst playoff game in recent history; a fact all the more shocking because it occurred during the conference finals. These games shouldn’t be such big blowouts early enough for both teams to be able to clear their benches. At this point, only the best of the best should be playing. Games should be close, hard fought, and competitive.
Yes—but since the Spurs were without the services of Kawhi Leonard, the game was shot for San Antonio before it started.
Without their superstar and Tony Parker in the lineup, San Antonio’s offense was anemic and their defense non-existent. The game became non-competitive and out of hand so fast that both coaches were able to empty their benches and give everyone a little playing time.
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Golden State got out to a 17-point lead, 33-16, by the end of the first quarter. By the time halftime rolled around they had extended the lead to 28 points, 72-44. The Warriors stepped off the gas a little bit in the second half, and when the game finally came to a close, Golden State ended up winning by 36-points, 136-100.
The only player for the Spurs that appeared to be interested in playing was Jonathon Simmons, who got the start in Leonard’s place. He led the Spurs with 22 points on the night. The only other Spurs player to score in double figures was Davis Bertans with 13 points off the bench.
Several of San Antonio’s starters only made a single basket in the first half.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 29 points on the night and had one of his better nights from the field hitting six of nine three-pointers. Golden State had six other players score in double figures including three off the bench.
The only starter that did not score in double figures for the Warriors was Zaza Pachulia—but that wasn’t due to lack of effort. He ended up only playing seven minutes. He suffered what has been called a right heel contusion after landing awkwardly on his right foot following a dunk.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made it clear he was not happy with his team following the game (ESPN):
“Kawhi being gone, I don’t think as I watched … I don’t think they believed. And you have to believe. I don’t think as a group they really did, which means probably a little bit of feeling sorry for themselves psychologically, subconsciously, whatever psycho-babble word you want to use. I don’t think they started the game with a belief, and it showed in the lack of edge, intensity, grunt, all that sort of thing. That was disappointing.”
The game was almost painful to watch and not just for San Antonio fans. Normally, the Spurs are a team that prides itself on being fundamentally sound; one where everyone is valued and contributes. While they may not be the most exciting group in the NBA, fans can count on them to play good basketball—which they certainly didn’t do Tuesday night.
Heck—there was more drama and excitement traveling to the arena than there was inside once the game started. It appears that Golden State’s acting head coach Mike Brown ended up in front of the Spurs bus on his way to the arena. The police ended up pulling him over in front of the arena so that San Antonio’s bus could pass.
As they did, Brown got a call from Popovich:
“Mike, I didn’t know that was you,” Brown said Popovich told him on the phone (FoxSports). “He goes, ‘I’m sitting here, I see this black Range Rover, I see all these cops surrounding him, I see the car trying to inch forward, and I’m like, He’s about to get arrested.’”
Leonard had an MRI on his ankle following the re-injury in Game One. There is no structural damage, but the team is not sure if he will be available for Game Three. Golden State held Andre Iguodala out due to soreness in his knee. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him sit again so he can be closer to 100 percent for the NBA Finals (assuming San Antonio doesn’t pull a miracle out of a hat).
There was some potential for additional drama during the game. At one point during the game, it appeared as if LaMarcus Aldridge may be trying to get a little retribution for Kawhi Leonard. As Kevin Durant went up for a shot, Aldridge seemed to slide his foot underneath Durant. Durant did land on it—like Leonard landed on Pachulia’s foot—but no injury occurred and play continued.
After the game, Durant said he never thought Aldridge was trying to be dirty and chalked up to a big man trying to play defense on the perimeter.
Game Three of the series will not be until Monday night at 9 PM ET on ESPN. With the long break, maybe Leonard will be able to heal enough to play. San Antonio will undoubtedly need him if they are going to have any chance at winning a game let alone the series.