It seems that as we approach game 6 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs are coming in confident they have the Warriors figured out. Yes, Harrison Barnes has been surprising after an OK rookie season, but comes down to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson making three point shots. Once you take that away, while forcing Curry to be the on-ball defender as much as possible, and it seems that Mark Jackson doesn’t have too many rabbits to pull out of his hat.
One thing the Spurs have done very well after Stephen Curry erupted for 44 points in game 1, and the Spurs needed a three pointer from Manu Ginobili to win the game, is limiting Curry’s ability to shoot off the dribble. How? Well, Danny Green spending more and more time on him. In the fifth game, the one which the Spurs won by 18 points, Tony Parker took the early shots Curry had to give and did it pretty well.
It tells us that Curry is getting tired. Playing on a hurt ankle, it’s becoming more and more difficult to handle bigger players guarding him, while the Spurs shifting their focus offensively towards him. The moment the Spurs started hitting their open shots, the Warriors couldn’t keep up, even if they have been doing a good job on Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are emerging as substantial contributors on the offensive side as well, while Tony Parker finally looks healthy.
Attacking Curry was the way to go in Game 5. The Spurs scored 30 points when Curry was the on-ball defender, including 12 by Danny Green. They hit 68.8% of their field goal attempts when he was the man guarding, and it seems that the mileage he’s putting on in the series, running more than anyone in the first five games except for Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes is taking its toll.
On the other end of the floor it’s been Leonard and Green stopping Curry and Thompson from getting easy looks from beyond the arc. While Curry can contribute even if the long-ball is taken away from him, he looked awful in game 5, trying to force it from beyond the arc (1 for 7), finishing with 9 points. Thompson was simply taken out of the game by Leonard, not taking a single three point shot and finishing with only 4 points on 2-for-8 from the field. The moment the Spurs force the offense to go mostly through Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors hardly have a shot of winning.
Expect Tony Parker to go to work early on Curry, although the atmosphere in the Oracle arena does provide quite a disturbance. It doesn’t matter. If the Spurs work their way around an aggressive yet very tired Warriors defense by putting Curry again and again on the guy with the ball, they’re almost guaranteed to see more and more open shots. Like this series has proven – the Spurs might a be a little bit older, but they are the better teams, and when the shots they should be making start falling in decent percentages, it’s very hard for the Warriors to catch up without having a rare night from three.