Manu Ginobili Shines & Stephen Curry Doesn’t in the Clutch

Sometimes history is stronger than anything else: The Golden State Warriors haven’t been able to beat the San Antonio Spurs in Texas for over 16 years, so even a huge performance for most of the game by Stephen Curry eventually gets subdued by the wonderful Kawhi Leonard, while Manu Ginobili on an awful shooting night comes up with the winning shot to keep things in order.

Curry might have been the star of the night, scoring 44 points and continuing his ridiculously good playoff performance (his first ever postseason) while getting only a few seconds of rest in a double overtime game. He added 11 assists and finished with 18-35 from the field, but fatigue and excellent defense from Leonard made it a rough finish for Curry, going 0-7 on jump shots during the fourth quarter and overtime, with the Warriors suddenly going cold.

Manu Ginobili

While Ginobili was the easily spotted hero of the 129-127 affair, Kawhi Leonard deserves to mentioned in the same line. The small forward, who might turn out to be one of the best draft steals of recent years finished with 18 points on 7-11 from the field, and it was his defense in the fourth quarter and overtime that cooled off a weary Stephen Curry, who had four guys (including Tony Parker and Cory Joseph) try and slow him down throughout the night. Leonard found Ginobili with the assist for the game winning shot, and his huge three in the fourth cut the Warriors’ lead from eight to five with 1:41 left in the game.

The Golden State Warriors gambled by going small-ball in the fourth quarters and overtime, paying for it. Tony Parker struggled with his pick n roll throughout the first three quarters, but was 5 for 8 during the final 22 minutes on such plays. The Spurs ent 11-of-18 (61.1%) inside the paint in the 4th quarter and overtime periods after struggling through the first three quarters.

It’s only the second one I made all day. Good timing, though.

Manu Ginobili hasn’t been great this season, averaging 11.8 points on 42.5% from the field; he was terrible against the Warriors, shooting 5-20 from the field, finishing with 16 points. But he did have 11 assists, and you can’t replace the ability to have your hands so steady with 1.2 seconds left, hitting nothing but net on the most important shot of the season up to that point.

Kent Bazemore almost became on overnight hero with his layup to give the Warriors a 127-126 lead with 3.9 seconds left in the game, but it wasn’t to be. Their defense broke down on the inbound pass, and going cold fish in the fourth quarter destroyed their chances of stealing game 1, just like the Indiana Pacers did in New York.

Can the Spurs win without Tim Duncan, who was limited by a stomach bug for the final minutes of the game? They actually played better without him, struggling with Andrew Bogut all game long. Without Tiago Splitter, their defensive ability is seriously hampered, but they have learned something about Stephen Curry and the Warriors, who might be a little bit too reliant on their point guard’s ability to score on his own.

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