May 22, 2017, 11:30 pm
There was an ominous sense of finality surrounding Monday’s tilt at the AT&T Center. The Spurs, having lost Tony Parker already, had now seen Kawhi Leonard and David Lee go down with serious injuries of their own. With Coach Pop declaring Leonard doubtful on Sunday afternoon it seemed like the best San Antonio could do was hang around on their home floor. While the improbable Celtics victory the night prior had some people believing that the Spurs could make their own miracle statement, it was not to be. With relative ease, the Warriors are back in the NBA Finals. Tuesday’s Daily Dish goes through the action.
Warriors 129 @ Spurs 115
The Warriors closed it out thanks to big efforts from their two biggest stars. Stephen Curry continues to tear it up in these playoffs, dropping 36 points on 14-of-24 shooting with five boards, six dimes and five triples. He’s on another heater and looks to be back to MVP form after a fairly quiet regular season – at least by his lofty standards. After reports of various bumps and bruises popped up following Game 3, Curry will appreciate the extra time off afforded by the sweep. Kevin Durant dropped a huge double-double with 29 and 12 boards on a 10-of-13 shooting night. Any night where Curry and KD combine to go nearly 65 percent from the floor spells death for opponents, and it’ll be downright scary if both of them get on true hot streaks.
Elsewhere, Draymond Green did his thing with a full 16-8-8 line while Andre Iguodala played 22 minutes and notched seven points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Iguodala was a key player in the past two Finals matchups and he too will benefit from the extra rest days the Dubs earned tonight. Patrick McCaw played well yet again in another start, posting six points, four boards, two assists and a block. The rookie entered the starting five in place of JaVale McGee to counter San Antonio’s small lineup and didn’t look out of place. He tweaked his ankle, unfortunately, and it’ll be interesting to see how much he plays when the competition really ratchets up in the next round.
While the Warriors have swept their third consecutive opponent, they still haven’t gotten much out of Klay Thompson. The sharpshooter has been anything but so far and made only three of his 13 attempts tonight to finish with 10 points and six rebounds in 34 minutes. Thompson started his basketball year with a poor showing in the Rio Olympics and the Warriors have to be hoping this isn’t a full-circle thing. While they clearly have plenty of firepower without him, an average night from Thompson unlocks several lethal looks for Golden State. Whether it’s a mental issue or fatigue from a long year of hoops, expect Klay to try and get right before Game 1.
On the San Antonio side, the story without Leonard became what Manu Ginobili could do in what was the potential last game of his storied NBA career. With the Argentine mulling retirement, it was a full on love affair from the moment the doors opened and he was greeted with a huge ovation when he was announced as a starter. Ginobili dropped 15 points, seven assists and three steals in this one and if this is it, he’s had a simply terrific career.
LaMarcus Aldridge continued his rough series, playing just 22 minutes in this closeout game. He managed eight points and seven boards as the Warriors really had him out of rhythm once Kawhi Leonard exited the matchup. Completely exposed on defense, expect a lot of questions about his place on the team to come out this offseason. Not having the potential MVP certainly changes the complexion of things but LMA was the team’s number one and let them down in a big way. Right or wrong, he’ll have to face some heavy criticism.
Patty Mills finally had a half decent game, dropping 14 points with three triples. He struggled to replace Tony Parker and didn’t do himself any favors on the free agent market, though he’s sure to earn himself a nice raise anyway. Also in line for a raise is Jonathon Simmons, who capped off the run of his career with 13 points, five boards, four assists, a steal, a block and a triple in 25 minutes. He came from relative obscurity to play big minutes in the postseason and is sure to find a nice contract this summer as a solid wing with room to grow.
Kyle Anderson took full advantage of garbage time to post a nice line of 20 points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals while infrequently-used Bryn Forbes got some first quarter run and ended up playing 24 minutes in this one.
Perhaps most importantly for San Antonio going forward was the game from young Dejounte Murray, who may very well be the team’s starting point guard on opening night. He played a team-high 29 minutes on his way to nine points, seven assists and a franchise playoff-record five steals. He should dominate Summer League and will be a hot name to watch this offseason.
On Tap for Tuesday
With one half of the Finals now set, the world waits for Cleveland to dispatch the Celtics. After taking their foot off the gas, the Cavs should come out with plenty of fire against a shorthanded and inferior opponent. They’re likely kicking themselves for losing out on some rest days after blowing Game 3 and will be out to end the next two as quickly as possible.
While the Celtics remain an inferior team, especially without Isaiah Thomas (despite what some people have been spouting on Twitter), the increased use of Marcus Smart brings a totally different look to this matchup. His feisty defense is much needed against the explosive Cavs and he can dig in against larger players if necessary. With his miraculous shooting night is unlikely to repeat itself, the C’s will need to get some more scoring from other players. Avery Bradley hit the winner while Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko stepped up admirably, so look for those three to remain involved more than they were in previous rounds.
Keep it locked in to Hoop Ball for all the updates leading up to tip.