Without Kawhi Leonard — he’s still out with his hip problems — the Spurs didn’t actually stand a chance. The 20-point margin that closed out the game proved that. But San Antonio led by as many as 19 points in the first quarter. It was a fantastic start for a team that really shouldn’t have had a chance, missing its best player and one who is vital to the team on both sides of the ball. Instead, the Spurs hung around, and hung around, and led by five points at halftime.
The second half was a Warriors rout, as the entire game should have been. But the Spurs have this strange knack for making the Warriors play un-Warriors-like. Kevin Durant struggled to start — he opened up 1-of-8 from the field. Stephen Curry had a minor ankle sprain, which slightly contributed to the early Spurs lead. But San Antonio still held Golden State to only 50 points through a half, which is much, much easier said than done.
We all know what happened last year — the Spurs held a huge Game 1 lead up until the very moment that Zaza Pachulia undercut Leonard. He was lost for the series, and so were the Spurs. They blew that game, lost the series in four games, and futilely yelled into the wind about how Pachulia’s play was a dirty one. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. No number of words would have allowed Leonard to play again, though.
Still, this strange aura that the Spurs have when playing the Warriors is telling. And while we can and should assume that the Warriors will waltz to the finals, we should at least plan our viewing schedules around their series against the Spurs, assuming we make it there. San Antonio has proved they can make Golden State uncomfortable, even if they don’t always beat them, and that’s something that not many teams can say.
Damian Lillard, hello.
Game-winner. Buckets. Trail Blazers win. And that’s what Lillard does.
So ... about Lonzo Ball, though.
His line was zero points, three rebounds, four assists, two blocks, a turnover, and 0-of-2 shooting. That’s not ideal.
Ball has shown good flashes — he was plus-10 on Thursday, at least — and he has also clearly shown his flaws. The biggest question for him right now is whether he can become a league-average three-point shooter. There are some serious concerns — given his strange release and struggles off the dribble — that he can do that. But he shot well in high school and clearly can bomb jumpers when he’s on. This was not his best night, and most of the start of this season hasn’t been, but we’ve seen enough that Ball clearly isn’t a bust, either.
Also, Charles Barkley doesn’t think that he’ll be an All-Star.
Except maybe he’ll be an All-Star not at point guard? All righty, then.
I’m extremely happy for my very high-jumping son.
The Warriors will probably have three players average 20-plus
Durant dropped 24 points, Klay Thompson scored 27, and Curry averaged 21. That threesome is all averaging at least 21 points — Curry is over 28 points and Durant over 25 — while nearly hitting 50-40-90. One of the most vaunted shooting metrics, the 50-40-90 club, is legitimately obtainable for all three of them, while all three still score 20-plus points.
This team is incredibly unfair.