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. Iman Shumpert scares people (video)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza

    Knicks wing acts as security guard in prank

  2. 67RIEFNS No. 1: Tom Thibodeau managing his bigs

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers

    Bulls have Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic

  3. Jerry Colangelo: Team USA ‘by far’ better than 2010 squad that won gold

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Team USA Showcase

    Colangelo touts Anthony Davis, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay

  4. Clippers will stretch Miroslav Raduljica, too

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas

    By also stretching Carlos Delfino, Clippers can sign four veterans to minimum contracts

  5. Derrick Rose knows injury questions will keep coming. And coming. And coming.

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto

    The truth is limited games in an unusual setting don’t provide real answers to how Rose is feeling or will do down the line. What you think this says about Rose really says more about what you think of Rose’s future than anything else.

  6. FIBA World Cup preview: USA, Spain, then who else can medal?

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Pau Gasol, Kevin Love Pau Gasol, Kevin Love

    It should be USA/Spain for the gold, everyone else is playing for third.

  7. Pelicans’ coach sees Anthony Davis making big leap with Team USA

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:24 AM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    Anthony Davis should lead the Pelicans to the playoffs, which would make Monty Williams feel safer.

  8. Manny Pacquiao wants to sign Metta World Peace to his Filipino team

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Eight-time world boxing champion Manny P Eight-time world boxing champion Manny P

    World Peace/Pandas Friend has already reached terms to play in China. Bidding war?

  9. Jeff Green donates $1 million to Georgetown athletic department

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    NCAA East Regional Final - Georgetown v UNC Getty Images

    Celtics forward contributes money toward construction of building named for John Thompson Jr.

  10. Ty Lawson says not to sleep on Denver Nuggets

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets Lawson celebrates a three-point shot against Golden State Warriors in their NBA Western Conference quarter-final basketball playoff in Denver Reuters

    If the Nuggets stay healthy, they are again a playoff threat in the West.

  11. Cavaliers GM admits concerns about rim protection on defense

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Kevin Love, David Griffin Kevin Love, David Griffin

    Protecting the paint is the obvious Achilles heel of the Cavaliers, on paper anyway.

  12. Kings rookie Nik Stauskus shares summer NBA experiences (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

    Stauskas is thrilled to have finally made it to the NBA.

  13. Miami Heat top 10 plays of 2014 season (VIDEO)

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh Chris Bosh

    Wade and Bosh show they can get the job done now that LeBron has moved on.

  14. Supreme Court has a basketball court (photo)

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Highest Court in the Land

  15. Damian Lillard first in line as Team USA injury replacement

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT

    Dominican Republic v United States Getty Images

    Could Trail Blazers guard replace Derrick Rose in World Cup?

  16. Watch the World Cup hype video

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    See Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Serge Ibaka dance

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (3772)
  2. D. Rose (3169)
  3. K. Bryant (2689)
  4. L. James (2619)
  5. K. Irving (2296)
  1. A. Davis (2136)
  2. T. Young (2087)
  3. R. Allen (1977)
  4. S. Marion (1836)
  5. E. Okafor (1739)