Skip to content

Spurs ramp up defense to beat Warriors, advance to Western Conference Finals

May 17, 2013, 2:12 AM EDT

Kawhi Leonard

The Warriors had a great run, but their magic ran out. In a hard fought, defense driven effort the Spurs defeated the Warriors 94-82 to advance to their 2nd consecutive Western Conference Finals.

Golden State battled all night, trying to stave off elimination but simply didn’t have enough.

Stephen Curry scored 22 points, but never found the range on his jumper while going 10-25 from the floor. Jarrett Jack tried his best to keep the Warriors in it by hitting half his 12 shots to score 15 points, but with off shooting nights from Klay Thompson (4-12, 10 points) and an awful fall that kept Harrison Barnes from finishing the game (while limiting him to 4-10 from the field), even the home crowd trying to will them to a win wasn’t enough to get them over the top.

Credit the Spurs for the Warriors’ inefficient output. As they’ve done over the past several games, San Antonio clamped down defensively and kept Golden State from ever finding a rhythm offensively. The Spurs hedged high in the pick and roll and funneled shooters into mid-range shots and flips at the rim, contesting nearly every look along the way. And while some of those attempts found the bottom of the net, those aren’t the types of shots the Warriors want to take nor are they the kind that can sustain a high powered attack to match what the Spurs were able to produce.

So the Warriors struggled all night to keep pace, falling behind by double digits multiple times throughout the contest. If not for some timely shot making, some inspired defense of their own, and a crowd that would not let them surrender, this game could have gotten out of hand.

So credit the Warriors too. They displayed a lot of heart and showed off the type of young talent that should keep them competitive for years to come. The future looks bright in the Bay Area.

But now is the Spurs’ time. The veteran group showed a combination of physical and mental toughness, displaying a discipline and adherence to their game plan that kept them a step ahead all night.

Tim Duncan was huge early, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the first half. With Tony Parker struggling to get into a flow, Duncan provided the ballast his team needed as both a scorer and a drawer of attention that opened up opportunities for others.

Kawhi Leonard was also big all night, hitting timely shots and while erasing Klay Thompson defensively. Nearly every single one of Leonard’s 16 points seemed to come on a big basket, as he hit jumpers to nip a potential Warrior run in the bud or converted a shot inside to bolster the Spurs lead.

And while Parker and Manu Ginobili struggled all night to score for themselves — they combined to shoot 4-22 from the floor for 18 points — they more than made up for it by creating good shots for others, tallying 19 assists between them. Both were so good in maintaining their aggressiveness off the dribble, threatening the defense and then picking out teammates for makable shots.

Of all the Spurs that deserve credit, though, head coach Gregg Popovich should receive a fair amount. As the series has advanced he’s made the right moves over and over again, putting his players in position to succeed. Down the stretch of this game he went small to spread the Warriors out, sitting Tim Duncan in the process. Pop relied on Tiago Splitter to man the middle and the big man delivered, playing strong defense on one end and occupying defenders as the dive man in the pick and roll on the other. Splitter’s activity was crucial in creating space on offense and taking it away on defense, allowing the Spurs to hold on down the stretch.

This truly was a fantastic series and, in a way, fans should feel a bit cheated that they didn’t get a game 7 to decide who should advance. But it wasn’t meant to be. The Warriors showed they had the heart, but they were just a bit too banged up and lacked that extra kick to break through.

Meanwhile the Spurs showed that they have that right mix of youth and veterans, talent, and coaching to get it done. Again.

Latest Posts
  1. Watch Stephen Curry play like MVP, spark Warriors to Game 1 win (VIDEO)

    May 3, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry, Jeff Green AP

    The Grizzlies have some work to do defensively to slow Curry.

  2. Reports: Stephen Curry to be named MVP Monday

    May 3, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Harden comes in second in the voting.

  3. Warriors cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

    May 3, 2015, 6:17 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Memphis, minus Mike Conley, looks completely overmatched (as expected)

  4. Hawks start hot, finish cold, Wizards take Game 1 on road 104-98.

    May 3, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    It was a tale of two halves, and the Wizards took the key one.

  5. Doc Rivers on whether Chris Paul will play in Game 1 vs. Rockets: ‘If I had to guess, I would say no’

    May 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Paul battled through a hamstring injury during his incredible Game 7 performance.

  6. PBT Second-Round Playoff Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks

    May 3, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Wizards could make things difficult on the top-seeded Hawks.

  7. Adjusting for playoff rotations round two: Watch out for the Wizards

    May 3, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Kent Bazemore, John Wall, Paul Pierce AP

    Cavaliers could be OK against the Bulls (even without Kevin Love), Warriors remain favorites and more lessons from the first round

  8. Rumor: Orlando taking time to start coaching search waiting on Thibodeau situation

    May 3, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Tom Thibodeau AP

    Thibs may not want to go to Orlando if he becomes a free agent as a coach.

  9. Chris Paul banks in game winner to lift Clippers past Spurs (VIDEO)

    May 2, 2015, 10:56 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Seven Getty Images

    It was going to take a shot like that to win this, the best first-round series in recent memory.

  10. Chris Paul strains hamstring, heads to locker room, but returns

    May 2, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Seven Getty Images

    He was out for eight minutes the Clippers were only -2.

  11. Jared Dudley can become a free agent, but says 80 or 90 percent chance he’ll return to Bucks

    May 2, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Four Getty Images

    Dudley has player option for $4.25 million for next season, but hopes to back in Milwaukee regardless.

  12. Brandon Jennings: Winner of Clippers-Spurs series ‘will be playing the Cavs in the Finals’

    May 2, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    The Warriors (and the Bulls, and the Hawks) may have something to say about that.

  13. Blazers’ GM non-committal on attempting to re-sign free agent Wesley Matthews

    May 2, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Portland was very good with Matthews healthy this season, but he’s now an unrestricted free agent, and it’s unclear how high the Blazers will go to retain his services.

Featured video

Thunder take risk with Donovan, but calculated one
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (5723)
  2. M. Conley (5636)
  3. R. Rondo (4555)
  4. C. Parsons (3873)
  5. K. Durant (3721)
  1. J. Smith (3682)
  2. K. Bryant (3558)
  3. D. Williams (3442)
  4. P. Beverley (3330)
  5. J. Crowder (3274)