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. Report: Sale of Milwaukee Bucks for record $550 million agreed upon, team to stay in Milwaukee

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    Image (1) Bucks_logo-thumb-250x346-20140.gif for post 4121

    New York based hedge fund billionaires Marc Lasry and Wes Edens are buying the team but keeping it in Wisconsin, they just need to get a new arena built.

  2. Tyson Chandler: ‘I’m not into wasting seasons’

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    Jimmy Butler, Tyson Chandler Jimmy Butler, Tyson Chandler

    Knicks center knows, though, he might have no choice

  3. Shaq smashes Brent Barry’s guitar ala Animal House (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT

    Shaquille O'Neal AP

    You can’t do enough Animal House references to make me happy.

  4. Clippers and Raptors clinch best records in franchise history, Spurs next?

    Apr 16, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin, Jonas Valanciunas Blake Griffin, Jonas Valanciunas

    How many years feature three of the best records in a franchise’s history?

  5. Chicago Bulls creating offseason trade options with latest signings (updated)

    Apr 16, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls

    Bulls give Greg Smith, Ronnie Brewer, Lou Amnundson and Mike James multi-year contracts

  6. Playoff Chase: Seven meaningful games on final night of NBA season

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki

    Nothing like waiting until the last minute to figure things out.

  7. 2014 PBT Awards: Most Improved Player

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis

    Nine combined spots on the ballot go to eight different players, and none of our winners made the other two’s top three

  8. Tuesday NBA grades: Chris Paul looks playoff ready

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:42 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Chris Paul and J.J. Redick look good as Clippers ready for playoffs.

  9. Chris Paul puts Evan Fournier in spin cycle (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:40 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Poor Evan Fournier is on the wrong end of a highlight that’s going to get shown a lot for a few days. At least.

  10. Iman Shumpert drops Paul Pierce with the crossover (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:46 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Video of one player executing a crossover that drops another player to the floor — you know you’re watching.

  11. D’Antoni didn’t know draft lottery implications for Lakers after win over Jazz

    Apr 15, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Mike D'Antoni AP

    Mike D’Antoni had no idea how beating the Jazz on Monday would negatively impact his team’s Draft Lottery chances. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  12. Carmelo Anthony has torn labrum, Knicks shut him down for season

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony AP

    Anthony is out for the rest of the season but will not be surgery and will be good to go next season.

  13. Celtics’ legend Cedric Maxwell stood in location of Boston Marathon bombing just minutes before

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Just 7-8 minutes before, Cedric Maxwell had stood next to one of the people killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, but he decided to go inside and get warm.

  14. With top spot secure, Pacers to rest George, West, Stephenson, Watson Wednesday

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    With nothing on line Pacers going to rest key guys… except Hibbert.

Featured video

Woodson, D'Antoni's coaching futures
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Williams (4476)
  2. D. Wade (4248)
  3. K. Love (4094)
  4. L. James (3706)
  5. G. Dragic (3509)
  1. S. Curry (3477)
  2. C. Anthony (3445)
  3. D. Howard (3353)
  4. R. Rondo (3178)
  5. D. Lee (3084)