One thing is clear after Warriors' Game 2 evisceration of Spurs

One thing is clear after Warriors' Game 2 evisceration of Spurs

OAKLAND -- And with that, all the side narratives for the Western Conference Final died the grisly deaths they so richly deserved.

In a game so desiccated of drama that not even a Red Panda halftime could save it, Golden State Warriors eviscerated the already perforated San Antonio Spurs by a final score that can best and most cruelly be described as “32 Minutes Of Garbage Time.” The actual numbers for you pedants are 136 to the homes and 100 to the guests, but unless you were giving 36½, you don’t really care that much.

And while San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich explained the size of the loss as the result of an almost team-wide timidity, the Warriors played at a level that almost no team would have been able to match, let alone one with a shredded roster.

Golden State made all the points upon which you may rely for the remainder of this series. They defended too well. They pushed the pace too well. They created open looks and converted them too well. They were the direct antithesis of the Warriors who began Game 1, and did not let up even as the margin became the seventh-largest in conference final history, and the final total tied for fourth.

Oh, and San Antonio doesn’t do a good job of replacing their two best players when confronted with the previous paragraph. Or, according to head coach Gregg Popovich, when only one player engages with the task before them.

“The only way I can process this is that I think it’s not O’s and X’s or rebounds or turnovers or anything like that,” he said. “I think we’ve maybe felt it too much, Kawhi (Leonard) being gone, in the sense that, as I watched, I don’t think they believed . . . I don’t think they started with a belief, and it showed in the lack of edge, intensity, grunts, all that sort of thing. When you’re playing a team that’s as good as Golden State, you’re going to get embarrassed if that’s the way you come out.”

The only player he exempted from this analysis was Jonathan Simmons, who replaced Leonard in the starting lineup and finished with 22 points in 25 minutes. “He was one of the very few who came to play. Jon was great, on both ends of the floor, he was intense and he came to win for sure.”

But the fact that Simmons stood nearly alone was only San Antonio’s issue for one night. The more compelling truth is that the Warriors have pressed their post-Leonard advantage, outscoring the Spurs, 194-133, putting math to not only the matter of belief but the different in present talent levels as well.

“It’s funny you mention that,” said Stephen Curry (29/7/7 in 30 minutes), whose pull-up three seven minutes into the game gave the Warriors a double-digit lead that only bloated as time went on. “I was watching them right before the game, at the National Anthem, and they were having fun, pretty light on their feet, the normal pregame get-hyped moment. It looked like they were all in tune. But when the game starts it’s who wants to grab that momentum early and set the tone for the game, and I think we did that a little bit better tonight.”

So maybe the answer to the night’s most ridiculed question was 2:28 into the game, when Zaza Pachulia cut to the basket and dunked over nobody, or maybe it was Klay Thompson’s open-look 20-footer a minute later, or Curry’s second three with 4:52 left in the first that gave the Warriors their first double-digit lead. Pick a shot, any shot. The game came and went almost too quickly for the human eye, and the rest of the night was just a matter of waiting for the Inevitable Express to pull into the station.

That pace of domination by Golden State likely cannot be maintained as the series heads to Texas, nor does it need to be. The mesmerizing effect of style points is always greater than their true value.

But Golden State’s style is defined largely by its use of defense and pace, which it lacked through much of Game 1. Seeing its effects in Game 2 have probably refreshed in their heads the easiest way to, in Curry’s words, “to avoid getting into bad habits and keep our feet on the gas pedal.”

At this point, the likelihood is that this series will not see the light of next weekend. Popovich may get the belief he is looking for this weekend in San Antonio, but belief alone falls well short of the standard required to beat these Warriors. Belief can prevent this level of embarrassment, but in its present state San Antonio clearly struggles to master Golden State’s multiplicity of weapons.

Believe that.

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.