It’s usually about the San Antonio Spurs being better than everyone when their big three are playing together, especially when they’re all healthy and ready to go. But in game 4 of the Western conference semifinals, the intensity and physicality of the game seemed to be a bit too much for Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, all disappointing as the team collapsed in the final 10 minutes of a game they had in their hands.
Overtime was embarrassing, or close to that. The Spurs scored only three points, going 1-10 from the field, including Kawhi Leonard, struggling on both ends of the floor during the game, missing a dunk that could have stopped the quick run the Warriors went on to open the final period. Danny Green hit one three pointer, but it was already too late, with the energetic Warriors, suddenly unable to miss a shot, surged through the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Spurs hit only 15.8% of their shots in the final 9:47 of the game (including overtime), dropping an 8 point lead with 5 minutes to go. Their defense simply couldn’t handle the Pick & Roll plays the Warriors kept going to, allowing 1.04 points per possession for the Warriors on such plays, who go to the P&R on more than 22% of their possessions. Jarrett Jack was extremely efficient, scoring 12 points during the Warriors’ late run, including five consecutive made field goals on such plays, as Tim Duncan, not having Tiago Splitter to back him up, couldn’t come out to block Jack while worried about Andrew Bogut most of the time.
But there was also Duncan on offense, and the defense of Bogut threw the second half simply wore him down. After scoring 14 points in the first half, as Bogut spent only six minutes on the floor due to foul trouble, Duncan was shut down in the second. Duncan was 7-22 from the field on the game, but missed his final five field goal attempts with Bogut guarding him on most of them, and only 2-12 from the field during the second half and overtime.
Tony Parker, just as banged up and probably more than Curry, looked bad, especially in the finish. He was only 6-17 from the field, which included missing all of his three point attempts. His usual cuts and sudden rises of pick n rolls aren’t working, and not just because of the Warriors doing a great job on him, because they aren’t. Both Parker and Ginobili (21 points) are getting open looks, they’re simply missing them. Ginobili missed his final four shots in the game, including twice from beyond the arc, one of them an open shot that could have given the Spurs the lead with 20 second left in the game.
The Spurs are hurting, but they’re mostly missing open shots. While Bogut is doing a good job on Duncan during some minutes, the rest of the shots the Spurs are missing are mostly open ones, finishing with 35.5% from the field and shooting a terrible 56% from the line. On defense, they need Tiago Splitter for more than 19 minutes. The Spurs were +7 with him on the floor, making Duncan a much more dangerous shot blocker and useful in a number of situations. Unless Parker miraculously emerges from his pains, the Spurs are going to need to win this with defense.