Posted on May 21, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The first two games of the Western Conference Finals did not go the way the San Antonio Spurs had hoped they would. But going home would help. It wouldn’t cure what ails them, but maybe it could give them enough of a boost to at least make it interesting.
Vegas certainly didn’t think so. The Spurs closed as a 9.5-point underdog, a record for a home game during the Gregg Popovich Era despite the 3-27 record the Warriors have games played in San Antonio.
With Leonard out again, it is almost a little surprising the spread wasn’t bigger. But if there is any coach and any team that could figure something out, it would be Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Unfortunately, this time, the enormity of the task was simply too much.
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To be fair, the Spurs did make this one much more interesting. They actually led after the first quarter, 33-29, and with 4:09 left in the half the score was 49-49. But then the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to open the game up. However, by halftime, the Spurs were able to close the gap a little, 64-55, and stay within reach.
The game never really got out of hand, but the Spurs were not able to mount a serious threat either. Kevin Durant led the charge in the third quarter with 19-points. Entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors were up 100-88.
When the game mercifully ended, the deficit was the same—120-108, Golden State.
“We knew we were going to be able to bounce back at least emotionally today and play a better game,” Manu Ginobili said. “The fact is that it is just too tough.”
San Antonio did play better but the Warriors had too much firepower for the Spurs to handle. Kevin Durant led the way for Golden State with 33 points and ten rebounds, Steph Curry had 17, and Klay Thompson had 16 points. Draymond Green chipped in ten points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
Ginobili ended up leading the Spurs in scoring with 21 points even though he only played 18 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 18 and Jonathan Simmons added 14 points.
Injuries have hit the Spurs lineup pretty hard making what was expected to be a well-played series worse than preseason basketball. First, there was the loss of Tony Parker early in the series against Houston. Then Kawhi Leonard was lost for Game Six after injuring his ankle in Game Five. He returned when the series with Golden State began only to be lost again before Game One ended.
During the first quarter Saturday night David Lee went down with some kind of leg injury. He was later spotted being wheeled around in a wheelchair. Rumor has it that he has a partially torn patella tendon in his knee.
“It’s not easy. Even if we were healthy, they’re a great team,” San Antonio guard Danny Green said. “It wouldn’t be easy, regardless. With the bodies going down, very much so an uphill battle.”
If the Spurs were to win now, the team would end up making history. No franchise has ever been able to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series before. To do so, the Spurs will absolutely need Kawhi Leonard back on the court. But even with him, winning a game let alone four in a row is far from a lock.
The Spurs tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to the long-term health of players. If Leonard is ready to go, he’ll play. But if he is less than 100 percent—which would not be shocking considering the timeline of his injuries—he will probably not play.
Popovich will not mortgage the future just to improve the minuscule chances the Spurs have to win the Western Conference Finals. Game Four will be Monday night at 9 PM ET on ESPN.