Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spurs-Warriors Game One: The Game Of Any Year

I really couldn't imagine that the NBA playoffs were going to get better in the second round. Warriors vs. Nuggets was up-tempo magic between two highly likable, flawed teams. Dubs-Spurs was going to be a simple slapdown of the young'uns; Golden State hadn't won in San Antonio for 29 games. They clearly weren't going to do that against a rested and experienced Spurs team?

And then Stephen Curry went *off* for 22 points in the third quarter, and when he wasn't touching cotton, he was setting guys up for wildly clean looks. Spurs Fan left early; this was over, 16 point lead late in the fourth, the Warrior bench looking like a comedy improv troupe, they were reacting so hard. Tim Duncan left early with illness.

Gregg Popovich then did one little thing; he put Kawhi Leonard on Curry. With Duncan out, Andrew Bogut also left the game. And with Mark Jackson not able, for some reason, to get Curry any rest despite the big lead, Leonard's size and defense started to take away the easy makes... and the Spurs just ate into the lead with speed.

Once we got to overtime, the Dubs were going to fade, right? Not so much. 5 point lead right away, only for the Spurs to come back. In the second OT, the Dubs actually took the lead with seconds left, as Curry found Kent Bazemore for the go-ahead bucket... but Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes inexplicably left Manu Ginobili open for the game winning three. This, just 40 seconds of game time after making a rock headed miss from 30 with 11 seconds on the clock. The Spurs survive and win Game One.

On the Manu game winner, I actually said, out loud, "No way" before it drained. First from him being open, then from Bazemore nearly closing out despite having to defend Boris Diaw in the post before going out to the shooter. The arc was impossible, so was the catch and release. After 58 minutes of basketball, all of it up-tempo and exhausting to just watch, let alone play... just, um, wow.

(Oh, and a special note for the Spurs Fan Woman who decided to scream like a dog on helium for the last half hour of this game. You nearly ended Twitter, and gave everyone who can't just watch game an out. And the TNT sound tech that didn't get her away from his mic? You also have a deep need to be unemployed. Only bad thing about this game.)

I can't imagine that Golden State can turn around and compete in Game 2 on Wednesday. Curry played all but 4 seconds of this game, and looked completely gassed. Popovich is so much better than Jackson, it's already cost the Dubs a game, and it's probably going to happen again. Maybe the Dubs can recover on their home court, and maybe the Spurs start feeling their age in front of these shooters. There will be people wanting to bury Jack and Barnes for leaving Ginobili open; there will be others who will want to canonize him as clutch when he's really just very good and *very* lucky.

But independent of all that... I just saw one of the best basketball games you could imagine. Hopefully, you did too.

Oh, and here's the quote from Popovich, post-game, on Ginobili: "I went from wanting to trade him on the spot, to wanting to cook him breakfast. And he's just going to say what he always says -- 'That's what I do.' I stopped coaching him a long time ago." Well, um, yeah. What a freaking game.

Play me out, Charles...


Snd_dsgnr said...

That was the best damn basketball game I've seen in years. I almost switched it off after the Warriors pushed the lead back to 16, so glad I didn't.

If you'll indulge the UNC homer in me for a moment, I don't think Danny Green is getting enough credit. He had the three to tie the game in regulation, he had a three to push the lead to 5 in the second OT, and he had a big block of Curry also in the second OT. Really happy to see the guy catch on in the NBA, I thought he was criminally underrated during his time in Chapel Hill.

DMtShooter said...

Agreed. The Spurs did a lot better when the game went small, and Green was at the heart of it.

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