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Out of Gas, In A Series

By Jeff Koch on May 12, 2013.

(Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle)

Golden State 97, San Antonio 87 (OT)
Series tied 2-2

There’s an elegant symmetry to this series, the 4 games almost a mirror of each other. Golden State had every chance to win Game 1 on the road, but gave it away and lost in OT; in Game 2, they were clearly the better team, and won. (Hold up mirror.) Game 3 saw the Spurs as the much better team, taking a game on the road. And in Game 4, San Antonio had every chance to win down the stretch, but eventually gave it away in OT.

Poetic justice; all are punish-ed.

So let’s call it even. Back to zero, first to two wins.

From a big picture stand point, San Antonio accomplished what it wanted, regaining home court advantage by winning one game in Oakland. Sure, winning today would have been the best possible outcome, and it sure looked like we had the chance, particularly with first half foul trouble, Curry clearly hobbled, and Golden State relying on Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack to be their primary offensive weapons; I’ll take those odds every day.

But the Spurs just didn’t have the legs tonight. Brick after brick, every shot fell short, including free throws, and there was just no lift and no life in the team. Parker appeared to be moving fine after his injury, but was having trouble even getting the ball above the rim. After a quick flurry in the first half, Ginobili re-regressed back to his below average ways. Tired legs = missed shots. On a larger scale, tired legs also means taking short cuts, not finishing plays, getting lazy, and not making that extra pass to free up a shooter, or not driving the lane when it’s there. The bigger problem tonight was that we lacked aggression, and had no will to get to the basket or run the offense effectively. Missed jump shots was just the symptom of a larger problem. We let Golden State dictate where we got our offense, and we happily obliged.

(Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle)

We fell short, but ultimately, we still only need to win two games, and have two of the remaining three at home. We’re better off than we were Friday morning, and it’s still anybody’s series, and I still like our odds.

But problems do still exist.

Andrew Bogut. From my (admittedly untrained) eyes, he is the biggest factor in this series so far. When he is off the court, we are clearly the better team; when he is on the court, we are not. He missed most of the first half with foul trouble, and it really felt like we should have stretched that lead to double digits. I wanted a 15 point lead, not an 8 point lead at half. I knew we had let an opportunity pass in the first half. Bogut controls the paint, locks up Duncan, and dictates rebounding on both ends of the court. I know Duncan is a first ballot hall of famer and the better player, but just throwing into him in the low post against Bogut is a recipe for disaster. I’d like to see us use more pick and roll (for both Duncan and Splitter), get the bigs moving, open up 3-point shooting, and get back to our offense. The offense that we’ve played for maybe 25 minutes total in these 4 games.

Working off of that, we’re giving away too many points from offensive boards. The second chance points have been pretty even, but they are crashing the boards and getting way too many second and third opportunities. I think I’ve written “offensive rebounds!!!!” in my notes at least 3 times in each of the games. We’re playing solid defense, but not finishing defensive possessions.

Finally, I don’t know where our free throw shooting has gone, but a few more made free throws, and this game would have been out of reach well before the final 3 minutes. That’s between the ears, and will either get better or it won’t.

As I’ve stated many times, this is one heck of a confusing series. After each game, a new storyline emerges that has the victor of the last game firmly in control. Don’t believe the hype. This is an even series. The Warriors are no more in control now than the Spurs were after Game 3. Let’s talk after Game 5. Because if San Antonio has to go back to the Oracle facing elimination, now that will be interesting.

Game 5 is Tuesday night.

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