Highlights courtesy of MLG Highlights
1. Not yet, not today. With elimination on the table San Antonio flipped it over with one of the finest defensive efforts of this postseason thus far to stay alive and force a Game 5. There was a lot to like here from the Spurs as this was a very emotionally charged game for San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich still out mourning the loss of his wife Erin. In his place was Ettore Messina, highly regarded as one of the league’s. Given the gravity of this contest I expect his primary message was to be aggressive and leave it all out on the floor. And boy did they.
Almost immediately the Spurs put the clamps on Golden State outscoring them by eight in the first quarter and holding them to 37% shooting in that period. As a matter of fact this is a figure that held up for the duration of the game (yes they held the Dubs to 37% for the game!). Possibly more shocking than this was that the held them to 25% on three pointers (you read that right). They played brilliantly on ball, they disrupted passing lanes and kept their hands active (sounds small but it’s vital to playing good defense). It was a masterclass in how to play as a unit when you’re outclassed man to man.
2. Oh and they, you know, scored points and stuff. LaMarcus Aldridge led with 22 points and 10 boards. It took him 19 shots to get there but he did nail all five of his foul attempts. Having Aldridge in the middle proved too much for the soft in the middle Dubs who alternated between JaVale McGee and Kevon Looney at the 5 with a little Draymond sprinkled in. However, Rudy Gay gave Dray plenty to handle at the 4 spot going for 14 and 7. DeJounte “Baby Boy” Murray continues to impress with 12 points, four boards and two assists on 50% shooting. Patty Mills was solid with 9 points and 5 dimes and Kyle “SloMo” Anderson notched 10 points on perfect shooting.
However, props have to go to the old dudes. Tony Parker was tough today scoring 9 in 16 minutes getting to the rack the the TP of old. But it was the eldest Spur that brought the house down. Manu Ginobili scored 16 points and dished 5 assists. Manu hit a few big shots late as 10 of his 16 points came in the fourth quarter. It was like watching the Spurs of old (no pun intended). The AT&T Center was going nuts chanting “Go Spurs Go” and “Maaaaaaannnnnnnuuuuuuuuuu”. It’s just one of those things that best encapsulates Spurs lore. At 40 years old Manu was able to bring the crowd to their feet and help save a season. This doesn’t happen anywhere, but in San Antonio it’s just how they do things. And this is why we never rule them out.
3. Most days they have it, today they didn’t. These things happen. Much credit to the Spurs but they know as well as we do that this was not the Golden State team we see 95% of the time. But they came out flat and a severely undermanned San Antonio team found a way to make them pay.
Despite the poor team outing there were a few bright spots. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 34 points and 13 rebounds. It wasn’t pretty per se but it was his scoring that was the only constant for the Dubs on the offensive end. Draymond Green although struggling with his shot still had an impact here grabbing a game high 18 rebounds and tossing 9 assists (also a game) high to go with 9 points. Klay Thompson was cold as ice unfortunately. His 12 points came by way of him hitting only a quarter of his shots. Yikes.
Coming off the bench Shaun Livingston and Davis West fared well given the circumstances. Livingston put up a line of 10-3-2 with 2 steals and West went for 8 and 3 in his 13 minutes. Other than that there’s really nothing worth mentioning. The Warriors are still the far dominant team here, they just need to string together a decent performance to close this out. Because a San Antonio team of any iteration is not one you want to toy with.