Sunglasses & Advil:
Everything went perfectly for the San Antonio Spurs in the first half. They were demolishing the Golden State Warriors in a way that few saw coming. Kawhi Leonard was brilliant, LaMarcus Aldridge rose from the dead once more to put up another solid game, and the Warriors looked like they had been punched in the mouth. The Spurs weathered a few mini-comebacks by Stephen Curry who, at times, seemed like the only Warrior to show up in the first half. Taking a 20-point halftime lead, everything seemed unexpectedly great for the Spurs.
Everything changed when
the Fire Nation Zaza Pachulia attacked.
It's really hard to tell here for sure if the play was dirty. That second step after the closeout by Pachulia makes it really hard to defend him; I also think that Pachulia was just being a careless, tall basketball man. Regardless of intent and if it was dirty, it looks really, really bad on his part. The result? Kawhi Leonard did not return to the game. The Spurs looked completely different after he left. The Warriors looked different too; they looked alive.
We knew the Warriors would make a deep run at some point in the game. It's just a shame that they faced a shell of the Spurs without their best player during that run. Of course, the Warriors played really well to earn that 25-point comeback. The Spurs played pretty well without Leonard as well; they only lost by two points. In the end, though, injuries are unforgiving, especially to star players. The Spurs have to hope that Leonard returns quickly, and that his ankle issue doesn't bother him too much. Fortunately for San Antonio, the Spurs have three days off between Games 2 and 3, so he'll have plenty to rest that ankle.
San Antonio has to feel good about getting 17 points from Manu Ginobili and 12 from Jonathon Simmons. If the team can play like this with Leonard returning, they'll be in a good spot. It does feel like this was San Antonio's one chance to punch the Warriors in the mouth, but they're the Spurs. They'll definitely readjust and surprise us all once more.
For the Warriors, they definitely took advantage of Leonard sitting out the rest of the game. Curry was brilliant all game, but he really turned it on in the second half when his teammates finally joined him to show up. He finished with 40 points. Kevin Durant was also brilliant, finishing with 34 points. The Warriors finally got their first test in the playoffs this year, but they're still undefeated in the postseason with Kevin Durant on the team.
I now present to you this hot take without comment:
The Warriors lead the Spurs 1-0.
When the Sun falls, then the Moonlight:
Game 7. There's nothing better in sports than a winner-take-all slugfest. Unless, of course, it's a blowout. That actually might happen, but odds are this will be a back-and-forth, tic-for-tack, up-and-down, right-to-left affair. The Celtics have won all of their home games, and the Wizards have won all of their home games. Fortunately for Boston, this final game is in Boston. Everyone makes fun of them for being the "worst first seed ever," but this is what they fought for in the regular season.
Game 7's are hard. Game 7's on the road are even harder. Although Boston nearly grabbed a win in Washington (and they would have gotten away with it if it weren't for that pesky John Wall), they'll be happy to have the TD Garden crowd behind them. Washington simply has to play better on the road. The second game of the series was technically close, but the Wizards were run off the court in Game 5. If they don't want to go home, they have to step it up.
No matter what happens tonight, it's going to be entertaining. For what more could you ask?
WAS @ BOS | 8:00 PM ET on TNT | Series is tied at 3-3
Lines of the Night:
Stephen Curry: 40 points (14-for-26) | 7 rebounds | 3 assists | W
Kevin Durant: 34 points (11-for-21) | 5 rebounds | 4 blocks | W
Kawhi Leonard: 26 points (7-for-13) | 8 rebounds | 3 assists | L
LaMarcus Aldridge: 28 points (11-for-24) | 8 rebounds | 3 steals | L
- Below is the 6th episode of the 5th Quarter Podcast.