Sure enough the San Antonio Spurs are getting old, but the core of this team has been together for many years now, they’ve stick together through so many games and situations that they really now how to keep their cool and stay focused on the big prize. The Spurs came out a bit slow in their NBA Western Conference Semifinal series against the Golden State Warriors. They gave one game away at home, but came back and won on the road to even the series at two games a piece. But little else changed and as the Warriors were doing what they could to cope with injuries and the ailing ankle of their point guard and sharp shooter Steve Curry, the Spurs just keep on fighting and they managed to win the last two games of the series, including this latest 94-82 win at the Oracle Arena in Oakland California.
It seems that the Spurs know exactly how to manage their times, their tempo, how to wear off an opponent, slowly but surely. Veteran Tim Duncan had 19 points and six rebounds, while Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and 10 rebounds to help shape this outcome. This was a good performance for the veteran Spurs. “They’ve got great character. They’re competitive. They know there’s not a million chances to do this sort of thing. They wanted it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said to the press about his team’s character.
The Spurs built a lead in the third quarter, and then held on to the furious rally by the Warriors in the fourth quarter, and took this win to earn a ticket to the Conference Finals. They will face the Memphis Grizzlies, the 5th seeded team that defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, in the next round. Should they managed to dominate that series as well, the Spurs will make it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007, when they swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The dream is now over for the Indiana Pacers. I can’t help but to wonder what this series could had been if the Pacers came along with a much better health. Stephen Curry, the Pacers offensive weapon of choice was a bit off. He shot 10-of-25 from the floor to score 22 points, but did so on an ankle on which most mortals wouldn’t dare to walk on. Jarrett Jack had 15 points as well, but the injury-saddled Golden State finally gave in. Harrison Barnes, the rookie player who’s a key part of the Warriors defense, also suffered a head injury in the second quarter of the game. Sure enough, he returned in the third and made a couple of plays, but he was sidelined in the last 12 minutes with a strong headache.
The Warriors season is now officially over. But they should be proud of their play. “It’s inspiring to think of what we were able to accomplish this year and the foundation that has been laid,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. The team has sted positive. Even the injured Curry looks at this as a learning experience. “It will take a minute to realize the accomplishments we have made, for a Warriors team to be in this position – he said to the press-. “It’s a good thing, and we can build on this for next year.”
In a best of seven game series all it takes is for one of the contenders to win 4 games. The Pacers were playing at the Madison Square Garden, going on against a team that was against the ropes. Let´s consider that down 3-1 for the series the Knicks were 0-12 in playoffs games in that same scenario. This time around, however, the Knicks played their home court advantage card right, and behind the offensive prowess of their star Carmelo Anthony, and his 28 points and 6 rebounds, they managed to take a 85-75 win at home. It was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination, truth be said, the injured and somewhat shorthanded Pacers had to deal with a couple of absentees and some foul trouble. But they managed to cope well, despite not closing the series in game 5. The Knicks are not playing better, that´s clear. But they are playing harder, and under these circumstances, that might be just what they need to keep on winning.
Now, next game will be played on Saturday at Indiana, and the Knicks are going to have to do all they can to win this one on the road. If they do managed to return from a 3-1 deficit, win on Saturday and return the series to the Madison Squre Garden on Monday for game seven, and beat the Pacers once again, they would become only the 9th team in NBA history to come back from such a deficit. Nnow, in order to get that result, the Knicks will have to rely heavily on a brilliant performance from their bench. Last night the Knicks got plenty of production from their reserves J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland whom each had 13 points.
The Knicks showed some grit, plenty of courage to make up for some not too good basketball skills. It didn’t matter much, right now they will go ahead and take a win however they may. “I was totally impressed because we met the challenge,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said to the press in the postgame conference. “I think as a coach you come into games like this and you want to see who’s going to step up and make plays, and I thought we did that tonight. We were the better team in terms of doing that.”
The Pacers got plenty of production from their starts. Paul George would go on to finish the night with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists. They had to cope with the absence of without point guard George Hill because of a concussion. Playing without their main play creator would cost the Pacers greatly. Without Hill, the playmaking was left to D.J. Agustin, who, to be fair, finished the night with 12 points but had no assists. The team as a whole had to share the ball a little too much and they ended up making 19 very costly turnovers. David West had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who are trying to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2004.
For this one, the Golden State Warriors had to muscle it out. And no other player gave it such a heartfelt effort as the Warriors sharpshooter Steve Curry. Playing with a banged-up and swollen left ankle and with the series in the line, the Curry and the Warriors knew that they had to win this one in order to keep their chances alive. Sure the Spurs were going to give it a go with their veteran trio headed by Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but it made no difference. “It seems like every time you get on a roll and feel somewhat healthy there’s a setback,” said Curry about his recurring injury. Certainly not his finest night, shooting 7 of 15 from the floor, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range, but considering the whole thing, it was a brave performance. “And it just tests you. It changes your routine. It changes your outlook on the game, your preparation. You’ve got to deal with the injury and the adjustments your making as a team.”
This was going to be Curry’s most important game in his career and the point guard had to deliver. He talked to his mother the night before the game and, rumor has it, she gave them some wise words. All we know is that he came out to the court and scored 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists on an ankle that many of us wouldn’t even walk on. His motivation and leadership were the highpoints on a phenomenal team effort that gave the Warriors the edge to pull off a 97-87 overtime win on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs to put the Western Conference semifinals two games a piece. The Spurs were leading the game and had managed to build up an 8-point lead with 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. But they fought it to the end and forced overtime. Once in the encore, the Warriors brought out their fierceness and scored the first 9 points in OT to build up the lead and never look back.
But it wasn’t all about Curry, truth be said, everybody had to bring on their A-game and chip in to defeat the Spurs. Rookie Harrison Barnes had a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds while Jarret Jackson added 24 points coming off the bench. Talk about some secondary right there. Warriors big-man Andrew Bogut was able to stay away from foul trouble and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Warriors.
The Spurs did what they could, and got 17 points from Tony Parker who was wearing a black protective sleeve around his left calf. He was a little off mark in his 6 of 17 shooting, but was far away from the 34 points he scored in the previous matchup. Tim Duncan gave San Antonio 19 points and 15 rebounds and the Argentinean Manu Ginobili chipped in with 21 points coming off the bench. Still, the veteran squad ran out of gas in the overtime and the younger Warriors made the best out of their physicality to even the series.
The Indiana Pacers stayed true to their game and won at home to take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven Eastern Conference semifinals. With a phenomenal performances from Roy Hibbert and Paul George, the Pacers took control of the game early on and never gave the Knicks a chance to even fight for it. Hibbert would go on to finish the night with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while George, although a little slow offensively, was a complete nightmare for the Knicks with his spectacular defense. George struggled to create offensive opportunities but still finished the game with 14 points. He was a bit shy of a triple-double as he would sing off the night with eight rebounds and eight assists. But it would be his defensive heroics that would ultimately give the Pacers and strategic advantage to secure a 82-71 win at home.
With this win, Indiana now has emerged from an embarrassing 26-point loss to New York in the Madison Square Garden last week and proved that the Knicks are going to have to bring forth something more than the return of the banged-up Amare Stoudemire to the court. In his return from injury, Stoudemire looked very rusty and was unable to give the Knicks an edge. He would finish the night making just 3-of-8 eight shots to finish the match with seven points and two rebounds. The Knicks star Carmelo Anthony never really had much space to do his magic. Still, he did what he could and scored 21 points. Not bad, but certainly not in par with his playoffs scoring average of 29.3 points per game.
The biggest issue here is that Melo went cold in the fourth quarter, when his team needed him most and finished with only two points and no baskets in the final 12 minutes. As if that was not enough he was held to 6 of 16 shooting from the floor. And yet, we have to acknowledge that this was in part because of the Pacers ferocious defense. J.R. Smith once again also had very little production. He went 4 of 12 and scored nine points. Still, as a whole, he is only 11 of 42 from the field and his shooting woes continue. The Knicks attempted only 3 three-pointers all night long and were held to their worst scoring game in this postseason.
It was clear from the start that the Pacers defense proved to be too much for the Knicks last night “Offensively, we just didn’t have anything,” said New York’s head coach Mike Woodson in the postgame press conference. “I thought defensively, we hung in there and did what we had had to do, but we just didn’t have any offensive pop and we have to figure that out.” For starters they have to find a way to get more open shots and how to fight a little better against the best rebounding team in the league. Indiana limited the Knicks to 35.2 percent shooting from the floor and forced 15 turnovers. And they had a 53-40 rebounding that ultimately gave the Pacers a 20-10 advantage in second chance points.