2018 Western Conference Playoffs, First Round
San Antonio 97, Golden State 110
Golden State leads series 3-0
The hearts and spirits were willing, but the bodies unable.
In the wake of the devastating news of the loss of Coach Popovich’s wife, the entire Spurs organization performed valiantly in a game that was suddenly put in stark and proper perspective. Basketball was the last thing in the minds and hearts of the players, yet they still played with intensity and passion.
It just wasn’t enough.
There’s a lot separating these two teams, but the talent chasm is just too much to bridge for the Spurs. To get very reductive, the Spurs just don’t have the shooting talent to hang with the Warriors.
Let’s look at some numbers. The Spurs have made 20 3-pointers total in the 3 games; the Warriors have made 35. That marks 45 points more from behind the arc for the Warriors. Care to guess what the total point differential of the 3 games is? 49. And it’s not even that the Warriors are shooting a bunch more. The Spurs have shot 83, the Warriors have shot 85. The Spurs percentage from behind the arc is an embarrassing 24%. The Warriors are at 41%.
Let’s widen back and look at total shooting. In the series, the Spurs have put up 252 shots, 8 more than the Warriors 244. But the Spurs have only made 104, whereas the Warriors have made 127, or 23 more baskets than the Spurs, or about 7-8 more a game. Again, the average margin of defeat is about 16 points per game.
The Spurs are shooting 41% total; the Warriors (as mentioned) are shooting 41% from 3, and 52% overall.
The Warriors defense is good, but the Spurs shooting is worse. After Game 1 (when the Warriors defense really got into the Spurs), the Spurs are getting great looks; they just can’t hit them. In today’s NBA, shooting is the top skill and biggest necessity for success. It truly has become a shooter’s league, and the Spurs are falling woefully behind.
Two years ago when the Spurs built around size and strength and eschewed the rest of the NBA’s trend towards speed and shooting, it was a noble pursuit. If you can’t beat the Warriors at their game, make it a different game. Kawhi Leonard’s injury in Game 1 of last year’s Western Conference Finals really put an end to the experiment, with no results forthcoming.
But this season it has become evident that the Spurs need to upgrade and update the roster, with or without Leonard. The Spurs need more shooting everywhere on the roster. DeJounte Murray needs to work on his shot. Kyle Anderson (if he’s still on the team) needs to get the confidence to actually shoot it when it’s open. Bryn Forbes needs to figure out how to shoot well over an entire season. We’ll need bigs who aren’t afraid to shoot; same with guards.
There’s plenty to fix on this team, but it has to start with shooting. Watching this team brick three-pointer after three-pointer is hard to handle. Watching them routinely turn down open threes is even harder.
This season is all but over. With the emotional toll this team is currently under, I can’t see them winning Game 4. It’s time for rest and reflection; it’s time for mourning.
I hope the Popovich family and the larger Spurs family gets the time and space to truly heal from this devastating loss. After that, I hope the organization gets to rebuilding this team in a manner befitting their decade’s long excellence, so we can have decades more.
Game 4 is Sunday.
Go Spurs Go.