Warriors

2017 NBA Western Conference Finals: Warriors-Spurs Game 2 Roundtable

On Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors demolished the San Antonio Spurs 136-100 to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard (ankle). Their leading scorer was Johnathan Simmons with 22 points. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 29 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Golden State had 63 points scored off the bench and shot 56 percent from the field.

1. Did Game 2 just set the stamp on the rest of the series?

 

Martin Soaries

This game only confirmed just how badly the Spurs need Kawhi Leonard to compete with the Warriors. The state of the rest of the series is therefore determined by Kawhi’s health. If he’s not able to go, or just isn’t himself, this game is exactly what we’ll see for the rest of the series.

DJ Allen

Eh, I’m not going to say that it set a stamp but this was just a situation of what we all expected. The Warriors came out guns blazing and the Spurs didn’t have an answer. They need Kawhi and if he can’t go for the rest of the series, this may be a sweep. I do believe the Spurs will be more competitive on their home court but if Kawhi is not there, they’re not winning a game.

Felix John-Baptiste

For the most part, yes. The Warriors are hot and clicking on all cylinders. Steph is being Steph, and everyone else is following suit. However, it remains to be seen how healthy Kawhi will be in Game 3 at home. His absence made it glaring how much of a difference maker and play maker he is for this squad. His presence on the floor literally changes the entire scope of the Spurs’ abilities.

Justin Kirkland

The Spurs have a younger group playing and sometimes you have to get punched in the mouth in order to respond. Even without Kawhi, I doubt Game 3 would look the same from this team. The Spurs culture has always been stronger than that. I don’t think they win this series but they will definitely be more competitive as the games go on.

2. What do you make of what we saw from Johnathan Simmons (team-high 22 points) in Game 2 for the Spurs?

 

Martin Soaries

He embraced the opportunity. He’s been getting invaluable experience in the playoffs. In Game 2 he often looked like the number one option offensively. That’s obviously of no help to the Spurs at this juncture, but what Simmons is showing us now could possibly translate into something special in the near future. If so, we’ll remember this as a catalyst.

DJ Allen

I loved it. He was not shy of the moment and he was looking to attack. It seemed in the first couple of possessions he was feeling the game out but when he realized that no one else was stepping up, he decided to put matters into his own hands. Simmons was cooking Kevin Durant in the first half to the point where I think Durant was taking offense and was looking to go at him on the other side of the ball. However, with not much going in San Antonio’s favor, Johnathan Simmons playing like this is a bright spot for them going forward.

Felix John-Baptiste

Simmons showed in Game 2 that he has no fear. He has only one mode, and that is to play with maximum effort and purpose at all times. He’s not the type of talent that can afford to play lazy on any given night so at the least, you know he’s going to give you all heart and hustle. His game somewhat needs polishing but he has tons of promise and I’d be comfortable playing him in any situation.

Justin Kirkland

I love that Simmons just goes out there and goes for gold. Even though he has little NBA experience he has been playing basketball at a high level for quite some time and it shows. If anything, the new look Spurs as they continue to get younger by default and transition to the Kawhi Leonard era he could be an important cog in the core for years to come. This series could be the “coming out party” for the next generation of Spurs.

3. Other than Kawhi’s health, what can help the Spurs turn the series around?

 

Martin Soaries

I would look at Patty Mills and Danny Green needing to play better as their best shooters. Klay Thompson did a great job on Mills in Game 2, but Mills and Green can’t combine for 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting (2-for-9 from three) and expect to compete. Getting them going in San Antonio will be important. I’m thinking there might need to be a bold rotational move by Pop as well, like giving Davis Bertans some early spot minutes in Game 3 (finished with 13 points in 17 minutes of garbage time in Game 2).

It’s also on LaMarcus Aldridge to take some pride and assert himself as an aggressive scoring threat, with or without Kawhi Leonard.

DJ Allen

The one thing that can help turn this series around is for LaMarcus Aldridge to wake up. In a game where Aldridge becomes the focal point and the number one option for the team, you wouldn’t think that he would shy away from the moment. He was hesitating on shots and passing up looks that he would usually take. LaMarcus only had 8 points on 4 of 11 shooting in 26 minutes. This isn’t the way to step up when your number one guy goes down. If the Spurs are going to have any chance, Aldridge has to play like a superstar.

Felix John-Baptiste

Defensive rotations. Both Gasol and Aldridge are slow-footed on defense (and even at times on offense). This doesn’t bode well when one of the Warriors guards are coming full speed around a screen. Nor does it help when a Warrior wing is sprinting around a down screen for an open jumper. Pop will have to get creative on the defensive side and play some more versatile lineups (at his own risk of course).

Justin Kirkland

Outside of LaMarcus Aldridge needing to return to form the Spurs were terrible defensively. When you are playing short handed you have to win games by being intense on the defensive end of the floor. They did not make many winning plays yesterday and just got outworked. They are less talented but that is no excuse for not putting forth the effort necessary to swing the tide. They did not look ready or focused last night.

4. The Warriors had a lot of people contribute in Game 2, which was needed with injuries to Zaza Pachulia and Andre Iguodala. Aside from the regulars, who showed you something that might be able to help them later?

Martin Soaries

I really liked the minutes they got from David West. He was filled in minutes with Zaza Pachulia out and gave them good pulse with his shooting and passing (five assists). Pat McCaw had a great showing with 18 points in 27 minutes off the bench, flourishing in the injured Andre Iguodala’s minutes in Game 2.

DJ Allen

For me, the standout was David West. I feel like he came in the game and made LaMarcus Aldridge very uncomfortable. He’s known for being physical and being up in your grill and I don’t think Aldridge appreciated that at all. West was great on defense and he made all the right plays on the offensive end as well.

Felix John-Baptiste

Patrick McCaw. The Warriors management has done an excellent job of surrounding its stars with shooters. Not only do they have Ian Clark off the bench, but McCaw can also spare the starters some minutes. The ‘Strength In Numbers’ mantra from last season doesn’t ring as loud this season, as it’s all about the star power. With McCaw stepping up it can help Klay and Steph get a few more minutes on the bench moving forward to remain fresh.

Justin Kirkland

Ian Clark is shooting 52% from the field and 43% from three-point range these playoffs. It is beneficial to have someone who can come off the bench and provide efficient shooting when the team’s main stars go to the bench. This helps the Warriors to stay explosive and keep the floor stretched no matter what unit is on the floor. He has been playing limited minutes but I have been impressed with his “stay ready” demeanor in addition to the play of Patrick McCaw.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 8 points on 4-of-11 shooting in Game 2. With or without Kawhi, does he need to just empty the clip in Game 3?

Martin Soaries

Most likely. The Spurs will treat Game 3 like an elimination game, so for Aldridge, there’s no more time to hold back punches.

DJ Allen

Yes, because at the end of the day what other option do they really have. Everyone believes that the Achilles heel of the Golden State Warriors is to pound the ball inside. Well, this is the perfect time for Aldridge and Pau Gasol to do so, so why not? What do they have to lose?

Felix John-Baptiste

Absolutely. There’s a level of respect about going down shooting and just having a bad game. It happens. But when your FGA’s are mediocre and you have a bad shooting night, there’s not much of an excuse. Expect him to start Game 3 super aggressive.

Justin Kirkland

He’s late to the party in my opinion. Aldridge was a star in Portland and has been spotty at best in these playoffs. I expect to see a more aggressive and physical game 3 from him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.