Skip to content

Preview: Spurs seek answers in game 3, but the Warriors keep changing the questions

May 10, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two Getty Images

It’s not a stretch to say the Warriors have been the better team so far this series. They’ve led both contests for the majority of the minutes and it took an amazing comeback, two overtimes, and a last second three pointer for the Spurs to get their win. Heading back to Oakland, the Warriors have to be feeling good about themselves, home court advantage in their pocket and all the momentum on their side.

On the other side, the Spurs have to be wondering exactly what their next step will be in reclaiming their favored status. They’ve struggled to consistently produce points against a Warriors’ defense that has closed off the paint. Golden State’s ability to switch screens has left the Spurs’ motion attack devoid of the ball movement that they typically roast teams with. In response the Spurs — especially in game 2 — became more dependent on an isolation style that only led to 14 assists (in the regular season they averaged 25 a game).

And when they did isolate, they had trouble scoring against the versatility of the Warriors’ long, active wing defenders. For the series, when Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green share the floor the Warriors’ defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) is 85.5 per NBA.com. Backed up by bruising big men Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezili, the Golden State’s perimeter defense has been fantastic.

Combine the Spurs’ offensive struggles with the Warriors’ ability to generate good looks on the other end of the floor and it’s not hard to see why the Spurs are in this predicament.

All is not lost for San Antonio, however. While the Warriors have seemingly solved the puzzle of how to slow down the Spurs’ attack, there are still adjustments that can be made. Quicker ball reversals out of their standard pick and roll sets can create good match ups on the weak side. When Tony Parker looks to attack off Tim Duncan screens, he can quickly swing the ball back to Duncan who can then run a secondary pick and roll with the wing on the opposite side of the floor — especially when that player is Manu Ginobili (who needs to find the range on his jumper quickly after needing 32 shots to score 28 points in the first two games).

This type of quick ball movement combined with screen actions can get the Warriors’ bigs moving side to side while also limiting the effectiveness of defensive switches.

Further, the Spurs can simply do what they’ve done all year by hitting some of the open shots they’re getting. In game 2, several uncontested jumpers clanked off the rim. If the Spurs hope to loosen up the Warriors’ defense, they have to turn some of those misses into makes. This will force the Warriors to rush out to the perimeter to contest shots and allow the Spurs’ wings to attack closeouts off the dribble and get easier baskets in the paint.

Where the Spurs may have bigger issues, however, is in slowing down Golden State’s offense. Someone always seems to step up for the Warriors — in game 1 it was Curry, game 2 it was Thompson — and that makes them difficult to scout and even harder to fully stop defensively.

The plan can start with forcing Curry to penetrate to finish rather than allowing him to take the deep jumpers he prefers to launch. Curry is a below average finisher at the rim and while those shots can often lead to offensive rebounds, it’s best to force him into positions where he’s less effective. If the Spurs need to pick their poison, 2nd chance opportunities from guys like Carl Landry or Festus Ezeli are less dangerous than a lava-hot Curry from behind the arc.

Similarly, they must run Thompson off the three point line and force him into help defenders where his shot will be better challenged. If Thompson and Curry can both be moderately controlled — a tough task, for sure — the Warriors chances of winning go down tremendously. That is unless Barnes, Green, and Jack aren’t making the majority of their shots.

And maybe that’s the Spurs’ biggest problem going into game 3. The Warriors, through their 8 playoff games, have proven to have enough fire power to score points even if one of their best players struggles. The Spurs, meanwhile, weren’t tested in the first round and are just now running into a quality opponent who can stretch them on both sides of the ball.

So while there is, theoretically, plenty of series left for the Spurs to figure things out, the time is now for them to start to make inroads. Another loss tonight will not bode well if they hope to advance to the conference finals for the second straight year.

Latest Posts
  1. All PBT’s NBA team previews in one convenient spot

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7

    This post is here to make life easier for you when you want to find these at the end of the season and point out how wrong we were.

  2. UPDATED Report: Timberwolves make push for Eric Bledsoe, Suns not interested in sign-and-trade talks

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    It has to be a sign and trade and Minnesota doesn’t have a lot of leverage here.

  3. Jeff Green says he wants to be leader on Celtics this season

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Jeff Green AP

    “It was more just becoming a better all-around player, trying to take the next step and become a leader on this team and will my team to win.” —Jeff Green

  4. James Dolan enlists Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire to break world kazoo record

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT

    dolan stoudemire anthony kazoo

    And you wonder why Phil Jackson is worth $12 million a year to the Knicks organization.

  5. Hawks’ Budenholzer adjusting to coach/GM role, had mentor for many years in Popovich

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Mike Budenholzer

    Budenholzer got thrust into a position with the power a lot of coaches covet.

  6. Cavaliers sign Lou Amundson

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Lou Amundson Serge Ibaka, Lou Amundson

    Will he make Cleveland’s regular-season roster?

  7. LeBron James unveils latest signature shoe from Nike: The LEBRON 12

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    9.15.14 Nike LeBron 12 Launch

    Full recap from the launch event at Nike World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon, including technical information, details on colorways, and confirmed release dates.

  8. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Toronto Raptors

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven Getty Images

    Kyle Lowry and Co. return for another run

  9. Grizzlies sign Hassan Whiteside

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Rio Grande Valley Vipers vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants Rio Grande Valley Vipers vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants

    Former Kings draft pick joins three other players competing to make Memphis’ roster

  10. Miroslav Raduljica signs in China

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Miroslav Raduljica Miroslav Raduljica

    Raduljica, after solid rookie year, leaves NBA sooner than he’d hoped.

  11. Dwyane Wade credits David Stern’s dress code for improving his style

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Dwyane Wade AP

    “Then it became a competition amongst guys and now you really got into it more and you started to really understand the clothes you put on your body.” —Dwyane Wade

  12. Report: Mickael Pietrus works out for Kings

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Portland Trail Blazers

    Pietrus sat out all of last season.

  13. Report: Gary Payton to assume role of ‘special advisor’ for Giannis Antetokounmpo

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:31 PM EDT

    Gary Payton, John Stockton AP

    Looks like Bucks head coach Jason Kidd is serious about making Antetokounmpo into a point guard.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3029)
  2. L. James (2736)
  3. K. Irving (2422)
  4. R. Rondo (2399)
  5. K. Bryant (2304)
  1. J. Valanciunas (2049)
  2. D. Ferry (1927)
  3. R. Gay (1835)
  4. N. Batum (1760)
  5. R. Allen (1751)