Posted on May 23, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Fans have been waiting for the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs to meet in the playoffs. San Antonio is not flashy, but there is no denying the level of excellence that they have been able to maintain for the last two decades. Golden State is undeniably the new kid on the block; flashy and full of talent.
Since the emergence of the Warriors a few years ago, fans have been hoping to see these two clash in the postseason. Surely, it would be the best seven-game series in recent history, and at first, it looked like it might become just that.
But then Kawhi Leonard was injured, and it became the series that couldn’t end fast enough. Well—Monday night in San Antonio, it finally did.
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San Antonio led for about a minute thanks to a Manu Ginobili bucket. Ginobili, who has come off the bench for most of his stellar career, got the start at home in what could be his final game in the NBA.
“We started him tonight out of respect,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “That was the whole reason for starting him. Before the game, you think it may or may not be his last game that he ever plays in, and I did not want to miss the opportunity to honor him in front of our home fans for his selflessness over the years.”
The 39-year old has hinted that the end is near, but has insisted that he would not think about retirement until the season ended.
His minutes had gone down each season since the 2010-11 campaign when he averaged 30.3 minutes a game (and started 79 games). This year he averaged just 18.7 minutes a game (played 69 regular season games; 0 starts).
Monday night he played 32 minutes, scored 15 points, and dished out seven assists.
The game was a typical Golden State win with one dominant quarter and three so-so ones. They started the game on a 21-7 run and were up 31-19 after the first quarter. They extended the lead to 14 points at the half, 65-51. After the third quarter, they pushed it out to 18-points, 98-78.
San Antonio made a spirited push in the final quarter, but they were clearly overmatched. The most they could do was close the gap to 14-points, 129-115.
“It’s the second time we’ve gotten swept in 15 years, and those are the easiest to digest because you’ve been overplayed,” Ginobili said. “The opponent was better than us, and in this case, way better than us.”
Golden State won just how they wanted—with Steph Curry leading the way (36 points) followed by Kevin Durant (29 points, 12 rebounds). Klay Thompson had an off night (3-13; 1-5 from three-point range) with just 10 points. Draymond Green had another solid night with 16 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.
With the number of star players they have, the Warriors can afford for one (Thompson) to have an off night.
With the win, the Golden State Warriors become the first time to sweep their way to the NBA Finals since the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers. They will have to wait a few days for the Cleveland Cavaliers to finish off the Boston Celtics and officially join them in the NBA Finals–again.
Game One of the NBA Finals will be on June 1 in Oakland at 9 PM ET on ABC.