April 17-- OAKLAND, Calif.-The Golden State Warriors feared what was coming. Their dominance could lead to complacency. Their discipline could lead to sloppiness. Their accuracy could lead to inefficiency.
The Warriors still finished with a 116-101 Game 2 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday at Oracle Arena for a 2-0 first-round series lead. Before they won their 11th consecutive home playoff game, though, the Warriors provided a case study on how much it contrasted to their Game 1 victory over San Antonio on Saturday.
In Game 2, the Warriors spent most of the time fighting for each possession and laboring through each shot. In a game that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes, the outcome finally appeared determined when Warriors guard Klay Thompson made a 3-pointer to give the Warriors an 88-77 cushion with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter after opening the period on an 8-2 run. After leading the league with 31.2 points per game in the third quarter during the regular season, the Warriors also took a 59-56 lead with 8:05 left in the third quarter after opening the second half with a 12-3 run.
In Game 1, the Warriors enjoyed a double-digit lead for the entire second half. The Spurs also never led in the game.
In Game 2, the Warriors struggled guarding the Spurs' prized big man in LaMarcus Aldridge (34 points on 11-of-21 shooting) and their new starting lineup addition in Rudy Gay (12 points).
In Game 1, the Warriors displayed what Spurs coach Greg Popovich called "the most stifling defense we faced all year long" because the Warriors' length and athleticism inhibited the Spurs' aggressiveness and resulted in a 40 percent clip. Aldridge also shot only 5 of 12 from the field.
In Game 2, the Warriors resorted to bad seasonlong habits with their ball control. Though Warriors coach Steve Kerr outlined that as a priority, the Warriors committed 14 turnovers, including seven in the first quarter.
In Game 1, the Warriors had committed 15 turnovers, and Kerr lamented "a couple of home-run plays that were completely unnecessary." Yet, those miscues were not as pronounced because of the Warriors' discipline elsewhere.
Still in Game 2, the Warriors showed their offense can overcome almost everything. Warriors forward Kevin Durant had 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting, despite going only 3-of-9 from 3-point range and missing his first five attempts overall. Thompson added 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting, despite missing four of his first five shots. Draymond Green had nine points, five rebounds and four assists, but he missed his first five shots. JaVale McGee added 10 points and seven rebounds, but he became plagued with foul trouble (three), guarding Aldridge and once fell for a Patty Mills 3-pointer that resulted in a four-point play. In his second consecutive game as the starting point guard, Andre Iguodala added 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
In Game 1, Durant nearly posted a triple double (24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists). Thompson went 11 of 13 from the field. Green logged a double double (12 points, 11 assists). McGee added 15 points and consistent defense on Aldridge. And Iguodala offset his poor shooting (1-of-4) with four assists.
Despite all of those varying developments, some central themes still remained prevalent.
Thompson rarely finds a shot he does not like.
"He puts a lot of fear in the opponent and they have to account for him," Kerr said of Thompson. "He's not always going to make a shot, but he's always going to make a huge impact. Defensively, he's one of the best on ball guys in the league, so we are awfully blessed."
The Warriors still brought enough effort to counter the Spurs' improved play.
"Whether they come out aggressive or not, we have to come out with that same energy that we came out with in Game 1," Green said beforehand. "I don't really focus on what other teams are doing or what they're going to do as far as their aggressiveness or the force that they play with. If we come out and play with the force that we're capable of playing with, we'll be fine."
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