Kevin Martin was put in a blender. While this loss wasn’t nearly as awful as the previous, it was another beatdown. While it only means the Spurs can’t win the first seed in real terms, it also means they have somewhat of a psychological hindrance until the late May meeting (presumed) in the WCF. Sure, a home win on Sunday will soothe the collective pride of the fan base, but the Spurs are will now have to win in Oakland if they want to go through the mighty Warriors. And they played poorly both times.
Last night they had the benefit of a slightly unfocused Warriors team that had some doubts and the turnover yips. Sure, that Minnesota loss likely encouraged them some, but it was evident in the first quarter that whatever focus and resolve it instilled didn’t stop the turnover flood.
TNT showed a graphic highlighting the Warriors’ defense against the Spurs. Beating the W’s isn’t only about defending them, although that is everyone’s chief concern. It is scoring against them. Unlike all the free-scoring teams we’ve seen (ever), these guys defend. Last year Chuck Barkley dismissed GS as merely a ‘jump-shooting team’, thinking they were the Sieve Suns reincarnated. They have played nearly league-leading defense for two years now. And yes, they can score.
Tough shooting nights happen but this wasn’t just that. Danny Green was hitting buckets. When the Spurs have off nights those kinds of open shots don’t go in. This was about guys not getting clean looks. Kawhi was out of the offense early, and struggled to get to his spots. Not for not trying, but because he was being defended well early.
For all the Spurs’ offensive struggles early, they were down only 12. But to these guys, who make blistering runs, that was too much.
I hate to make so much of a regular season game but we all know that this was basically a play-in game for the number 1 seed, however unlikely. All that is left to play for is a perfect home record, which is meaningful.