The world finally got the matchup they were churning for, and well, it didn’t quite live up to the hype.
The no. 1 versus no. 2 team, the top-ranked offense against the top ranked defense, it all sounds like a nail-biter until one team just takes over and wins by thirty. Leading up to Monday night, this game had the implications of being a “playoff-type” atmosphere, but the Golden State Warriors, like last week, just sucked the life out of their opponent and dominated throughout the game.
It’s well-known how different these two teams are and how they dominate in their own way, and that’s what made this matchup so intriguing. But as I watched this game last night, one thing stood out to me and that was pace. The Warriors operate at the fastest pace in the league, averaging about 101.84 possessions per game, whereas the Spurs stand at the 7th spot from the bottom with 96.13 possessions per game. When you have two teams that play at contrasting speeds, the main point of advantage is who can control the tempo and get the other team to play at their level. Last night, Golden State did exactly that, and that’s where the domination came into play.
San Antonio was forced to play up and down and they couldn’t withstand the pressure. They seemed to be out of their comfort zone, playing out of character, and that’s credit to the Golden State defense. They were aggressive and grungy and seemed to beat the Spurs to every loose ball. LaMarcus Aldridge was guarded physically, especially by Draymond Green, pushing him up the lane and simply making things as difficult as possible. He only had 5 points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field to combine with three turnovers. Golden State had the Spurs rattled and they couldn’t get a grasp on things. Dropping passes and fumbling the ball — it was ugly, and it showed in the box score with San Antonio’s 25 turnovers.
In games like this, it’s all about sticking to who you are and playing your game. “Well, they didn’t have Tim Duncan” and, “it was just an off night” are statements that I’ve heard, but I’m not sure Duncan makes a huge difference in this game, and saying it was just an off night is discrediting to the Warriors defense, in my opinion. Golden State played like Golden State and it forced the Spurs to play at a much faster pace, which brought San Antonio out of their comfort zone. You can’t try to be something you’re not, and that relays to all facets of life, even on the basketball court. These two teams will see each other three more times before the season is out and I’m interested to see how those matchups go as well.