For some reason, it took Gregg Popovich three quarters (including Curry’s 22-point third) to realize he needed his best defender in order to put out the flame that is Stephen Curry. After the 6’6″ Kawhi Leonard, with his incredible 7-foot-3-inch wingspan, was assigned Curry, Jarrett Jack was forced to become the facilitator and things again fell apart for Golden State at the end of the game. As impressive as Jack’s fourth quarter play has been this year, he is not an excellent ball-handler or a great decision maker. In Golden State’s Game 6 meltdown against Denver, Jack and Draymond Green contributed heavily to the discombobulated Warriors offense.
The Warriors held a 104-88 lead with 3:54 left in the game. In the final minutes, Curry and Jack each turned the ball over, but more than that, the team’s inability to get to the foul line–and hit their free-throws–during both of these runs is critical. With the score at 104-96, Richard Jefferson missed two free-throws. Jefferson has barely been on the court during these playoffs, but Klay Thompson’s 6th and final foul necessitated Jefferson.
Parker sliced through the Bogut-less defense for point-blank lay-ups during the final four minutes. In the 18-2 run to finish regulation, Parker (8 points on three driving lay-ups, and 2 foul shots), displayed his speed and ability to contort himself in the lane, propelling him and the Spurs all the way back, with a clutch Kawhi Leonard (18 pts on 11 shots, 9 boards, 2 steals) top-of-the-key three-pointer. The Warriors hard-fought lead evaporated into the San Antonio crowd, as sharpshooter Danny Green’s three-pointer (22 points on 8 of 14 and 6 of 9 from range) tied the game at 106 with 20 seconds left in regulation.
Instead of playing an actual 5:00 overtime period, it would have been fitting to see Steph Curry and Danny Green compete in a three-point contest to determine the winner of Game 1. Both have the kind of range that is kind to the net, swishing through their 28-footers with pure, unbelievable accuracy.
Though the game headed to overtime, and then double-overtime, you had the feeling the Warriors, despite their complete confidence, didn’t have the strategic tools to pull this game out. Popovich called a perfectly executed out-of-bounds play, leaving Ginobili wide open on the wing, dropping in the game-winning three over Kent Bazemore’s outstretched fingers.
Game Scores (basketball-reference.com)
GSW: Steph Curry 30.4, Klay Thompson 14.0, Harrison Barnes 12.2, Andrew Bogut 11.7, Jarrett Jack 7.3
SA: Tony Parker 20.4 , Danny Green 18.8, Kawhi Leonard 18.1