Wounded Warriors Running On Empty

SAN ANTONIO – When asked about the prospects of his band of wounded Warriors getting up off the floor following a 109-91 haymaker to win two straight games, Golden State coach Mark Jackson didn’t blink.

“It’s doable,” he said.

So is juggling chainsaws while walking across a greased high wire.

The trick now for the Warriors, darlings of the 2013 playoffs, is not just to reignite the shooting spark in their backcourt, rediscover the offensive harmony that comes from sharing the ball, cutting down on turnovers and restart the defensive intensity that cuts off penetration into the lane, but to do it all while limping.

Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut have been like sculpted sand castles at the beach in this Western Conference semifinal series, their games steadily eroding with the passage of time. It’s not a failure or shortage of will, but reality when a couple of bum ankles limit Curry to 4-for-14 shooting and Bogut to just 19 1/2 minutes of playing time in Game 5.

With Bogut’s motion and ability to pound away on the inside limited, the Warriors are missing the rim protector, shot alterer and jostler who kept the Spurs away from the basket in the first two games.

With Curry’s left ankle weakened, the Spurs have gone on the attack offensively, trying to run the ball right at him and through him, which has worn him out and cut into his effectiveness at the offensive end.

Toss in David Lee making a reappearance in the rotation with a torn hip flexor and you have a big man who was never known for his defensive skills being even more of a liability on the floor.

So it is that Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack have had to shoulder more of the load and it is taking a toll, along with the defense of San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard on Klay Thompson.

Things got so bad on Tuesday night that in a series that has been known for unexpected and improbable last comebacks, Jackson chose to play the final 8-plus minutes with Curry and Bogut sitting on the bench.

“It got to a point where they had made plays and we hadn’t, and I had to look toward Game 6,” Jackson said. “It was just being smart, that’s all.”

But practically bites.

This is a veteran Spurs team that smelled blood in Game 5, and reacted like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Tony Parker pulled up at the rim like he’d been delivered in a stretch limo. Tim Duncan kept right on attacking even though he can’t find his shooting touch. Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, Danny Green and Cory Joseph rarely missed a chance to make something happen. And the often inexplicable Manu Ginobili poked at the Warriors wound until it burst open.

Over in the Eastern Conference bracket, the injuries piled up high enough on the Bulls until what’s left of the disparate parts could muster up only 65 points on Tuesday night. The Warriors are not that broken, but the cracks are evident and sometimes you just come to the end of the road.

The Warriors, who are 4-0 after losses in these playoffs, will be back at home Thursday night at the earsplitting Oracle to face elimination for the first time this spring. But for the first time in their entertaining and inspirational run, the Warriors also looked worn down if not worn out in Game 5.

“You hope not,” Curry said. “I don’t think that’s in anybody’s head right now.”

It’s not the heads that should worry the Warriors, but those sore ankles and other aching body parts that seem to be finally leading to an inevitable end.

Series hub: Spurs vs. Warriors

20 Comments

  1. Timmy says:

    When was the last time the Spurs lost a series up 3-2? They have the momentum, the experience, and the Warriors figured out. Curry’s a great shooter, but he’s got nothing on Tony Parker in the latter part of this series. Spurs in 6. SA also has the advantage against the Memphis, they’re a different team compared to 2 years ago. They didn’t have Kawhi and Boris Diaw in that series plus Splitter and Danny Green are playing at a higher level.

  2. Jesse says:

    Splash brothers going to pull off a solid game in Game 6!

  3. Hongkonger says:

    Spurs has the edge as they get the clues to defend against Curry and Thompson. At the other end, Spurs are averaging their scoring load among players and it is not easy for Warriors to defend. Warriors will lose unless they perform to their best, ride their luck and Spurs let them off.

  4. Nomi says:

    Practicality bites**

  5. goforcinco says:

    If the spurs play spurs basketball it should end tonight. plus spurs played good in roaracle other than the last 2 mins of game 4.

  6. Klay Thomson says:

    I will show up tonight. That I promise all the Warrior fans. You deserve no less, and we will leave everything out there tonight!!!

    • Gordon says:

      Good luck Klay. I would expect nothing less from you and the Warriors. I loved your dad’s game when he was with the Lakers. For you and many others on this great team only sky is the limit. For tonight, give it all that you can. Be physical and keep the turnovers down. Good luck!

  7. clearwall says:

    This series should have ended in 5 anyway. SA played like idiots for 10 minutes in Gm 4 and caused this to be a 6 gm series. Spurs put the nail in the coffin tonight and march on to the minor speed bump that is the Memphis Grizzlies.

    • PopHatesSpicyCurry says:

      And don’t forget this series could easily be 3-2 warriors right now if the warriors hadn’t played like idiots for 10 minutes in game 1. Even if the warriors go down (which I’m hoping they don’t), the grizzlies are playing too strong right now for the Spurs

  8. LIL23 says:

    Heat vs Warriors
    whoooo i can see it
    FIGHT WARRIORS BE STRONG

  9. Elijah says:

    I love the warriors and I believe that curry will evolve into a even better basketball player than he is now he’s still young and I don’t thing the warriors should put so much pressure on him at this point. The warriors should be amazed with how far they’ve gotten and build upon that. Once curry and the rest of his team get older and acquire more experience they will be a dangerous playoff team. GO WARRIORS!!!!!

  10. muscles says:

    dont count out these warriors!
    no one though they would make the playoffs. -They got the 6th seed
    no one thought they could beat denver, especially in denver. -they won in denver and won the series
    no one thought theyy could go near the spurs. -won 2 games and are still alive
    I think the warriors will really struggle to win the next 2, but never count out a team that has defied the odds so many time!

  11. Willy says:

    Is that what this season is coming down too, injuries? I really don’t remember a more banged up season in a long time? Indiana is strong they can get past Miami and Memphis can beat the Spurs as well as the Warriors. Indiana / Memphis is boring man real boring

    • Bryan says:

      nah, its all spurs and miami……. what everyone has been looking for. honestly, memphis could barely handle the thunder so against an offensive/defensive juggernaut like the spurs, its all over. Spurs in 5. ANd miami vs indiana, miami forces indiana to spread their defense opening up the 3’s big time. they can also get on the inside. Miami in 5. but Spurs vs Miami…….. i’ve yet to find out, EXCEPT the fact that the Spurs have NEVER lost in the nba finals……….

  12. GSG says:

    spurs will win on thursday.

  13. NORBERTO says:

    San Antonio in 6. Their experience and momentum are too much for the Warriors.

  14. Bespoken says:

    Spurs in a great situation to throw the knock out punch but warriors ain’t done yet. I see this series goes to 7. I LOVE the warriors but honestly I see the spurs take in 7. Prove me wrong dubs! SF rocks!

  15. rickr says:

    Wounded warrior column title lacks respect and taste

  16. 3ptdagger says:

    I’m rooting for San Antonio, but GSW have played very well against them and I don’t think they’re so beat up or de-moralized as you’d have us believe. GSW will win Game 6 at home and San An Game 7 at home, because that’s the way this series has been. San An has won all of the odd numbered games and GSW the even numbered. I don’t think either team is capable of winning two in a row.

    • renoruona says:

      Go Warriors beat the cheap shot spurs time to hammer ginobli and parker in the lane tonight. make them pay physically for driving inside.