Warriors’ Defense Shoots Lights Out, Too

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SAN ANTONIO – This is not merely about Stephen Curry looking like the deadeye love child of Annie Oakley and William Tell one night and Klay Thompson turning into a heat-seeking missile the next.

It’s about shooting, yes, because it’s what they do. Shooting from the gaps and shooting over outstretched arms. Shooting a running, one-footed 3-pointer with the dour expression of an English butler on your face and shooting a fallaway heave in front of the opponents’ bench to beat the third quarter horn. Shooting late in the shot clock to bail out a possession gone wrong and shooting early in the shot clock because, well, you just feel like it.

It’s also about pressuring the ball out front, squeezing the penetrators into the lane, cutting off the paths on the baseline and protecting the rim as if it were the Holy Grail.

While all of the postgame highlights and most of the headlines about their first victory in San Antonio since the Mexican flag flew over Texas will concentrate on Thompson’s deep ball barrage, the Warriors got this Western Conference semifinal series to 1-1 because they played ferocious, high-energy, unforgiving defense.

It’s like finding out that Kate Upton can cook, too.

“Our shooters, Steph and Klay, are amazing,” said center Andrew Bogut, “but we like to think our defense is consistent.”

It consistently chased Spurs point guard Tony Parker. When Thompson wasn’t pushing the limits of credulity with his 8-for-9 shooting from behind the arc and his ridiculous 29-point first half, he was the one sinking his teeth into Parker.

“I told him at halftime, that is in the discussion of one of the greatest halves ever,” said Golden State coach Mark Jackson. “Not only what he did offensively, but what he did defensively. If you slow it down and see the multiple plays and the attention to detail defensively, he is playing a future Hall of Famer and he’s making him work for everything.”

That’s been the difference in the first two games so far — the Spurs keep looking like they’re laboring for everything on offense and the Warriors might as well be cruising the court on roller skates.

When the Spurs survived the Game 1 double-overtime epic while shooting just 42 percent, the conventional line of thinking was that they wouldn’t do that again. So they didn’t, because the Warriors wouldn’t let them. They shot just 39 percent in Game 2 because every San Antonio guard, forward and center who tried to get off a shot usually found a hand or two or three in his face. Many of the Spurs 3-pointers were hurried, their mid-range shots challenged and attempted layups were met with unrelenting defiance.

“You can talk all about our impressive 3-point shooting,” said Draymond Green, who nailed a rally-buster from the left wing with 6:40 left in the game. “But if you get right down to it, we held them to 23 points in the first quarter and 20 in the second and that’s where this game was won.”

Rather than hang their heads over the missed opportunity in the series opener, the Warriors took it as a challenge to prove that they could do it again. They are young, long, alive and hungry. Bogut especially guards the rim as if it were a bank vault and the help he gets from Carl Landry, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli is making a normally efficient Spurs offense look like something that’s been thrown together.

Parker’s darting drives to the hoop were met with swatting hands. Tim Duncan missed layups and tip-ins. Manu Ginobili took off on several of his hellbent drives through the lane and on several occasions wound up looking foolish as he missed badly and wound up flailing on the floor. Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal found themselves trapped and flustered close to the rim. Early in the fourth quarter, Tiago Splitter missed a point blank dunk because about four different hands were in his face. Then, Parker missed the follow. That the Spurs had assists on just 14 of their 35 baskets was a testament to the way Golden State took them out of their normal rhythm.

“We did a pretty poor job of moving the ball,” Ginobili said. “We played too much 1-on-1 and we held the ball for too long.”

The ball “stuck” in the Spurs hands because the Warriors were always a half-step ahead in their defensive rotations, cut off passing lanes, did not allow the ball to move from one side of the court to the other. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around and the Spurs were trying to pull off another miracle, they were so befuddled that they simply fell back on hoisting 3-pointers, even on a night when they were making only 5 of 21.

“Of course, watching Steph and Klay shoot the ball like they have for the past two games is nothing new to us,” said Bogut. “We see it all the time in practice. They’re both the kind of guys who, whether they’re 0-for-10 or 10-for-10 in a game, you know they’re not going to hesitate about shots 11, 12 or 13.

“You go with those streaks. You ride those waves. Then you go home and turn on the TV and watch and listen to everybody talk about the shots they made. And most of the time nobody talks about what happens at the other end.”

It’s about shooting the ball, yes, and just how hard the Warriors can make that for the other guys.x

41 Comments

  1. Gstate says:

    hey I remember that day when monte ellis got traded for andrew bugot Everybody was Booing the owner. Klay was rookie back then Curry was couldn’t get his feet yet…That’s was a good trade Ellis Was undersize to be a 2 guard.. FInally the warriors Can Run and Gun it and PLay defends As well…Great coach great Players Great team to watch.I want to see In western conference finals

  2. Jason says:

    Golden State Warriors can be the 2011 Dallas
    Mavericks team that Won the NBA Championship.

  3. Los cabos says:

    I posted after game 1 when the spurs fans were very overconfident..I tried to tell you the eyes dont lie…warriors are much more athletic and hungry whether that translates to winning series we’ll see but comments that spurs would sweep were ignorant

  4. Just Wait says:

    Everyone who is down on the Spurs, just wait. There’s a lot of minutes left to be played.

    Go Spurs Go.

  5. TTKIN says:

    “It’s like finding out Kate Upton can cook too”

    I swear to God that is the best line I have ever read in an NBA.com article.

  6. GO WARRIORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :)

  7. golden says:

    GOLDEN IN 6

  8. I DONT THINK THE SPURS HAVE AN ANSWER FOR CURRY OR THOMPSON.IF YOU DOUBLE TEAM 1 THE OTHER WILL GET YOU .THEN YOU GOT TO WORRY ABOUT BOGUT GREEN BARNES JACK NOT ONLY DO THEY HAVE GOOD D THEY HAVE SOME OFFENSE TOO.I MUST ADMIT THE WARRIORS HAVE MORE OFFENCE THAN THE SPURS .DO NOW.DUNCAN AND NOBLEY NEED SOME HELP SPURS ARE STRUGGLING ON OFFENSE.NOBODY GAVE THE WARRIORS ANY CREDIT DURING THE REGULAR SEASON .I THINK THE WARRIORS ARE GROWING UP FAST IN THE PLAYOFFS.SO FAR ITS THE MOST EXCITING TO SEE THESE 2 TEAMS PLAY NEVER BORING.I THINK OKC WILL STILL WIN THE TROPHY .DURANT IS A BEAST BUT DONT COUNT OUT MIAMI EITHER.ARENT THE PLAYOFFS GREAT .I GREW UP WATCHING THE WARRIORS SO THEY GOT TO DO IT AND BE THE CINDERELLA TEAM OF THE NBA THIS YEAR.

  9. Bryan says:

    once spurs get hot offensively and defensively (which they have been lacking), it’s all over for golden state.

  10. Rockets Fan says:

    I salute ya, POPOVICH!
    Your solution is probably the best right now for the Spurs since they cant afford not playing Parker

  11. Rockets Fan says:

    Just take a look at the season series between rockets and warriors, 3-1 in favor of houston. Rockets match them man for man, especially the guards. JLin and Harden are big guards too…

  12. Rockets Fan says:

    The main problem that the Spurs must overcome to even have a chance of winning is T.Parker’s liability on the defensive end… The one clear advantage the GSW have is size, their guards are bigger than that of a normal average guard in today’s league. (Curry, Thompson, Jack) If you watch the game closely, Pop wants to hide T.Parker but the Warriors ran their offense at him. GSW might be something more than a feel good story this post-season. I see a lot of similarities between this GSW and the OKC a couple years back, however they have to avoid repeating OKC’s mistakes. Mark Jackson reminds me of S.Brooks in the LAL and DAL series, a preacher that coach well on a young developing team. You should know whats next…

  13. bone says:

    Good luck to the spurs once they arrive in Oracle, be sure to bring your ear plugs.

  14. POPOVICH says:

    Of course latigo the spurs will make adjustments. The question is what adjustments will they make? Here’s some of suggestions (hope POP and his coaching staff reads this). They have to play big most of the time!!! what I mean by this is duncan at the 4 and splitter at the 5 or duncan alongside diaw or diaw with splitter. And oh I failed to mention you have this guy named de juan blair too. Why?? The spurs have to limit some of the easy baskets inside. Curry will get his but if the spurs can limit some of these guys easy baskets, they have a great chance. Landry got 10 points all inside the paint, 2 of green’s points was also inside and some of bogut’s and barnes points was also in the painted area. Not to mention ezeli’s 2 points. By playing big, dont you think either splitter and diaw cant check Draymond green?Yes D green can shoot from the outside but you can live by that than curry or thompson shooting from the outside.how about on the other end?can D green defend either one of the spurs bigs? Now if they(warriors) play small, the spurs should stay big because you can still compensate your lack of footspeed by playing a 3-2 zone which the spurs are accustomed doing before. Make them strictly jumpshooters. If they shoot 50% or above on the perimeter the next 3 games, you shake their hands. And please dont put parker to either barnes or thompson cause they will always post him up. It gives them added dimension to their offense. You cant stop curry anyways so let parker guard him and limit the others.

  15. Stephisbeast says:

    Their adjustments didn’t work so well for game 2 did it? Spurs won game 1 because the Warriors completely collapsed and gave it to them. Had the warriors not shown their inexperience in game 1…the Spurs would be in great danger of being swept.

  16. GSW says:

    HAWT HAWT HAWT HAWT!

  17. AnnoYouLater says:

    i watched game 2 completely and i dont know if they did a good job defending all positions but their interior defense was great, Duncan really struggled posting up and the other spurs player that tried to penetrate…spurs also struggle beyond the 3 point line but it was not bcuz of GS’ defense…they had a lot of wide open 3s but a most of it didnt go in…and in this game is where i saw how good of a coach Mark Jackson is

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I agree. Having Andrew Bogut back is huge (especially with David Lee out due to injury).

  18. Mike says:

    The way Golden State are shooting they have a chance to go all the way. Nobody give them any credit but watch out. My friend won all the bet so far against the Warrior opponent. Thats 8 games in a roll. They are the most fun team to watch.

    • Rockets Fan says:

      I’m sorry mike the Heat, which is GSW most likely opponent should they advance all the way to the finals, matchs up so well with your team that mismatches will never happen again. Wanna know why GSW won against Denver and is winning against Spurs, check out Ty lawson and T.Parker in the players profile and take a look at the height. They are the worst mismatch out there every game yet their coach cant bench them because they are the best player on the team.

  19. eris says:

    I agree that GSW defense is noteworthy, in part because their offense is ridiculous. but the Spurs are also good offensively, lest we forget, and they have not been looking as smooth in this series. credit to Bogut, he’s a great role player for GSW

    btw… “It’s like finding out that Kate Upton can cook, too” – uhh, way to not be sexist there

  20. LATIGO says:

    The Spurs will adjust and take this series. And when it comes to adjustments…Coach Pop is one of the greatest. Looking forward to a Spurs Victory in Game 3.

  21. ELCHATO says:

    Bull the Spurs had a bad night shootins 3’s and at the free throw line. This series are far from over. Its was Not the GS Defense. GO SPURS GO!!!

  22. Nick_E23 says:

    Golden State is winning this series… Hands down. The Spurs are not the same playoff team they were the last time they won in 07 I think it was? Been a while huh? Not hating (even though I hate them) it’s just they aren’t capable of winning in the playoffs anymore, they’ve shown it in the past few years, getting swept by the Grizzlies two years ago, and last year going up 2-0 against the Thunder and losing the next 4. Plain and simple, they don’t have it anymore, and this Warrior team looks hungry

  23. MJfromCOK says:

    I dont know Fran, it seems like Curry time might be an issue for the Spurs…

  24. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    The interesting positive that could come out of this … Westbrook sometimes gets criticized for taking too many shots.

    Well, now we definitely don’t have to worry about that sort of thing. Westbrook is awesome, but now Durant can take as many shots as needed. Meanwhile, other Thunder players have stepped up as well to fill the void.

    Durant is averaging close to 35 PPG, getting more rebounds, and stepping it up defensively.

    Durant will lead the Thunder back to the Finals.

    ANYONE who thinks differently … may need to seriously reconsider. Durant is the best scorer we’ve seen since Michael Jordan.

  25. Luis Madrigal says:

    There is a correction to be made, you misheard Mark Jackson. He did not say “end of discussion” about Klay’s Excellent first half he said that Klay’s first half was “IN the discussion” for the greatest halve. Subltle difference there because Mark does like to reference history that way but remind his team that they belong amongst the legends. Not that they are better.

  26. kiathwee says:

    Thompson and curry can shoot a contested three better than I can do an uncontested layup

  27. Mr. Real says:

    Great backcourt defense wins championships, especially in this generation where there are lot of quick and talented combo guards/forwrards and there are lot of teams now who used to play small. Back to “years of the giants” where size really matters, the likes of Wilt and Bill became the kings. GSW’s offense was great thru the phenomenal shooting of Klay and Steph, but the defense is equally great as well, (coach Jackson is a defensive guard back to his days, but lack shooting abilities). This probably helped to warriors finally regained elite status

  28. Jimmy jazz says:

    We’re starting to see what difference a healthy Bogut can make to this team

  29. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    You know, there’s a lot of people that don’t think the Thunder are going to go very far without the almighty Russell Westbrook, but guess what????

    It’s hard to imagine Memphis, San Antonio, or Golden State defeating a Thunder team that has Kevin Durant. Yes, the Thunder aren’t “as good” without Westbrook, but I just don’t see those other 3 teams defeating the Thunder in a 7-game series. I just can’t see it happening. I don’t see it.

    Maybe people like Charles Barkley predict Memphis will defeat the Thunder in a series. But let’s face it. Yes, Memphis is a great team, but without the likes of Rudy Gay, they are quite a bit predictable. Yes, Conley was awesome in game 2, but good luck getting a triple-double again.

    Yes, Memphis won the season-series against OKC 2-1. But one of those regular season games was hugely because Rudy Gay (before they traded him) got hot offensively. Well, the almighty Rudy Gay isn’t there anymore.

    Memphis doesn’t have enough firepower to match OKC, overall. If they still had Gay, they would be a lot scarier. But expect OKC to win this series. It may be a long series, but OKC has this one in the bag.

    Despite critics, OKC will reach the 2013 NBA Finals. It’s extremely hard to imagine the Kevin Durant-led Thunder NOT returning to the Finals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mark my word “Memphis in 6″

    • You're Dreaming says:

      ‘I just can’t see it happening. I don’t see it.’

      Joshua – You are about to become a witness. Open your eyes and watch the Grizzlies lose. (probably in 6)

  30. TT says:

    Warriors LIGHTS OUT, Spurs BLACKOUT!!!

  31. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    I saw some of this game.

    I must say I don’t know precisely who is going to win each series from here on out. Especially now that every series is tied up 1-1.

    But I must say in the West … the most exciting West Conf. Finals would have the Golden State Warriors vs. the OKC Thunder.

    Memphis and the Spurs are great teams … but let’s face it … the Thunder and Warriors are funner to watch. The Thunder and Warriors are more explosive, offensively. Without Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies are a little predictable. The Spurs have a lot of knock-down shooters, but their offense just isn’t at the same level as the Warriors.

  32. jesus says:

    if they stay hot we might see a shootout in the finals…steph and klay v shane,ray and co…Go basketball man!! These playoffs are already hot!!!