Experience Beats Youth in Game 5: Spurs Send Warriors to Brink with Blowout Win

TNT’s Kenny Smith, on the Warriors:

“We can talk about fatigue.  We can talk about being able to carry a team for the first time, which both of those guys (Curry and Thompson) are trying to do. Or we can just say games 5, 6 and 7 are about experience.  That’s when it starts to show.  Games 1 through 4, there’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, but games 5, 6 and 7, the experience starts to show. In game 6, the Golden State Warriors will have to show they’ve learned from the experience.”

TNT’s Charles Barkley, on Curry and Thompson:

“They are in uncharted territory.  They are jump shooters.  They need their legs.  They played too many minutes in that Game 1 (Curry played 58, and took 35 shots).”

Let’s not forget that Kawhi Leonard is the best non-big-man defender in the NBA outside of Paul George.  The Spurs have a single-minded focus: run Curry and Thompson off of the three-point line, and then swarm the passing lanes.  They are also making both Curry and Thompson work hard on the defensive end.  The Spurs continually attacked Curry (4 of 14 from the field, 1 0f 7 from distance, 8 assists and 4 turnovers) on cross-court passes, believing his rotations would be slowed by the ankle injury (they were).  Curry’s man ended up with open looks throughout the Spurs hot first-half.  Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes have become the focal points of the offense for stretches of games 3, 4 and 5 as a result of the Spurs game plan.  In Game 4, the two came up with just enough offense as a result of Golden State’s inspired defense, especially down the stretch.  In Game 5, the Warriors lacked intensity and focus.  The combination of inexperience, exhaustion, injury (the ankle), and playing in hostile territory (San Antonio is never an easy place to win) was too much for the Warriors to overcome.

What a Difference  a Bogut Makes

The defensive energy was lacking from the tip tonight.  The Warriors defensive rotations were loose and the Spurs played with the same kind of fluidity and ball movement that propelled them throughout the regular season, collecting an playoff-high 30 assists on 40 made baskets.  Andrew Bogut, the defensive anchor, had a foul-plagued 20-minute performance.  After picking up an early second foul half-way through the first quarter, Bogut headed to the bench.   Back after halftime, Bogut picked up his fourth foul, on a completely unnecessary grab at the Ginobili after the rebound was secured.  With 3:47 left in the third, any attempt at a Warriors comeback was snuffed out as Bogut headed to the sideline.  Foul trouble is part of the playoffs, but Bogut needed to play a smarter game tonight and couldn’t stay on the court.

Klay Thompson’s Second Round Performance – shot breakdown per half:


Game 1

First half: 5-10; Second half: 3-4; Fourth quarter: 0-1; 2 OTs: didn’t play

Total: FG 8-15, 3PT 0-4

19 pts, 5 reb

Game 2

First half: 11-14, 7-8 from distance; Second half: 2-8, 1-1 from distance; Fourth quarter: 0-1

Total: FG 13-26, 3PT 8-9

34 pts, 14 reb, 3 stl

Game 3

First half: 1-4; Second half: 6-16; Fourth quarter: 2-8, 0-6 within 12 feet, 2-2 from distance

Total: FG 7-20, 3PT 3-5

17 pts, 8 reb

Game 4

First half: 2-7, 0-1 from distance; Second half: 3-5, 0-1 from distance; Fourth quarter: 2-4; OT: 0-0

Total: FG 5-13, 3PT 0-2

10 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl

Game 5 

First half: 1-6; Second half: 1-2; Fourth quarter: 0-0

Total: FG 2-8, 3PT 0-0

4 pts, 2 reb

What does this breakdown tell us? The Spurs have haven’t allowed Thompson to see any daylight on the wing.  He isn’t getting any spacing on the corner three, as the Spurs have Leonard clamped down on him in the first half, and Green in the second half.  If Thompson isn’t getting involved, the Warriors become overly reliant on Curry, Barnes and Jack.  Part of the problem is that Klay can’t get to the foul line.  He can get to the hoop, but we have to remember: he’s only 23 and he has yet to figure out how to draw a foul.  He’s dealing with a very difficult match-up (Leonard), and he has more in common with shooters like Kyle Korver than he does with slashers like Barnes.

Thursday’s Games

Indiana @ New York, Game 5, 8pm EST, TNT (Indiana leads 3-1)

San Antonio @ Golden State, Game 6, 1030pm EST, TNT (San Antonio leads 3-2)

What will it take for the Warriors to win game six on Thursday night in Oakland? You might say another 3rd-quarter Curry Flurry.  You might say a handful of Thompson treys.  You might say Harrison Barnes slashing to the hoop.  You might say Andrew Bogut inhaling 15 rebounds and blocking 5 shots.  You might say Jarrett Jack spinning wildly in the lane and dropping in a fade-away.  You would be right.  They need all of the above.




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