Mark Jackson has been telling everyone that his young Golden State Warriors are a better team than the one they’re facing in the Western conference semifinals. After the first two games, it’s hard to disagree with him. Their game 2 win was a direct continuation of their dominance in the series opener, with Klay Thompson taking over the role of unstoppable shooter, while Stephen Curry went through the motions and a horde of different players guarding him.
So the San Antonio Spurs found a way to hold Stephen Curry to only 22 points on 7-20 from the field, while dishing out only 4 assists. Danny Green has the speed, upper body strength and quick hands to force Curry away from the shots he liked and into drives towards the basket. Curry was 0-8 from the field with Green guarding him, taking only 3 jump shots and is an overall 1-13 when Green is watching him.
But so far, the Warriors have an answer to everything. This series is a lot closer to 2-0 than an actual 1-1. Klay Thompson hit seven three pointers in the first half as the Spurs were focusing on stopping Curry, who might not be hitting shots when he has Leonard or Green guarding him, but he forces double teams and players to move out of position, leaving Thompson and others free to be a lot more dangerous than the Spurs give credit to some of them.
One of these players is Carl Landry, who keeps on making the most of every second given to him on the floor. He played only 14 minutes, but keeps playing bigger and stronger than his actual size, scoring 10 points and grabbing four offensive rebounds. Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli gave Tim Duncan a hard time on offense; so hard that the Spurs ignored their franchise big man in the fourth quarter, which worked well for the Warriors defending on the perimeter, not having to worry about squeezing in and freeing up people on the outside.
Saying the Warriors wanted it more is lying; there’s no such thing unless one team is tanking. But the Warriors did look like the team with more pepper and fire in their guts. Loose balls and rebounding. They had a hand on almost every possession the Spurs got stuck on during the fourth quarter, and it’s usually not very easy to make the Spurs look baffled on their possessions.
And there had to be someone putting on a rare performance, that man being Klay Thompson. He scored 34 points in the game, but 29 of them in the first half, giving the Warriors a 19 point lead at half time. He hit 7 three pointers (8 in the entire game), some of them of the kind you don’t think anyone can make.
But Thompson and Curry are more alike than anyone could have guessed. It’s not just their sharpshooting fathers, but the way they’re so much more than catch & shoot snipers. Off the dribble or as a spot up shooter, it doesn’t matter. Leaving one of them open means an almost guaranteed three pointers. As long as the Warriors keep the Spurs’ defense guessing like this, it might be safe to say the series will keep leaning their way.