When the Spurs rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili they still are pretty darn good.
Ask the Heat — last year Gregg Popovich and the Spurs were fined $250,000 by the league for late notice resting the big three for a Thursday night showcase game in Miami. What people forget is the Spurs almost won that game (they lost 105-100).
Better yet, now you can ask the Warriors.
Duncan, Parker and Ginobili were out again for a nationally televised game (this time with better warning from the Spurs, so no fines). But this time San Antonio got the win — a Tiago Splitter tip in with 2.1 seconds left gave the Spurs 104-102 victory on the road in the Bay Area.
It’s a tough loss for Golden State — they shot themselves in the foot in this game turning the ball over 24 times. Look at it this way: 22.7 percent of the time they came down the floor they turned the ball over. The Warriors bail themselves out of mistakes by knocking down threes but they hit just 8-of-31 in this game. You are not beating the Spurs that way no matter who they put on the court.
Golden State had a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take an early lead and were up by as many as 14 in the second quarter. But then Kawhi Leonard happened — he had 14 of his 21 points in the second quarter as the Spurs went on a 19-4 run and then we had ourselves a ball game. One that stayed tight the rest of the way.
Marco Belinelli came alive in the third scoring 17 of his team-high 28 as the Spurs made plays and maintained a small lead but could never pull away. The game was sloppy, with too many turnovers at a fast pace (106 possessions), but that kind of favored the scrappy Spurs.
Still, you expected a few big shots and a Warriors run — and you got the big shots. Stephen Curry hit a second-chance three pointer to tie the game at 102-102. Curry had 30 points and 15 assists in the game (plus 5 turnovers) and this looked like another dramatic game where the Warriors were going to pull out a dramatic win at home despite their play.
Then this happened.
Golden State can only blame itself here — this is a good team with a +3.6 per 100 possessions point differential (which would suggest a record more like 16-11, not 14-13), but a team that doesn’t play consistent defense and hurts itself too often. This game is a perfect example of that.
And it’s a perfect example of a Spurs team that just executes its system no matter who is on the court.