No Kawhi Leonard = no San Antonio Spurs?
Heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, some suspected a repeat of their Game 1 performance was not likely for San Antonio, but as they trailed by 28 points at the half, it was clear that the Spurs were in trouble.
Picking up where they left off in Game 1, Golden State burst out of the gates with a barrage of shots from long range, but the most notable difference between Game 2 and Sunday was the intensity on the defensive end.
“We wanted to make a statement to throw the first punch – come out aggressive. You can’t let your guard down,” said Warriors guard Shaun Livingston. “Their best player’s out, but we did a good job of staying locked in.”
The aggression show on defense very quickly unsettled the undermanned Spurs, with the visitors struggling to get a shot off. With the exception of Jonathon Simmons, the Spurs were dead flat.
“We took their punch in Game 1, and it was good for us in Game 2. It’s easy to let your guard down. We know what they’re capable of,” Livingston said.
The Spurs have proven that they can play without Kawhi Leonard in recent weeks, but Tuesday night was a rough night for San Antonio.
“Their shots didn’t fall and Game 1 took a lot out of them as well – it was a hard fought game,” Livingston commented post-game. “I think we did our job and came out trying to keep our foot on the gas and push the pace and we did a better job of locking into our game plan.”
Dominating the boards, the Dubs did what they do best – turning their defense into offense, and blowing San Antonio out of the water. Livingston said, “I think we did our job and came out trying to keep our foot on the gas and push the pace and we did a better job of locking into our game plan.
“A team like that, you’ve gotta come out and play desperate, and we did a good job of stifling them today.”
After amassing more than a 30 point lead, Coach Mike Brown looked to his reserve players to step and keep up the intensity. Patrick McCaw and Ian Clark were standouts in driving the Warriors to a comfortable win. Livingston said that these contributions don’t go unnoticed among their team mates.
“Pat was great tonight. Ian’s been phenomenal all year, and in the playoffs. It’s good to get more guys involved, cos you never know when we’re going to need guys. Somebody goes down – guys can step up,” he said.
As the series now moves to San Antonio, Livingston knows that it’s not going to be easy to walk onto the floor and take home a win.
“It’s one of the hardest place to win in the NBA. They have a great crowd, great home court, and they’re going to look to turn the series. Game 3 is definitely an important game for us to come out.”
Now with a 4 day break before Game 3, Livingston joked: “I’m not complaining. This will be good for everybody to rest up. It’s that time of year with bangs and bruises. Rest them up and you’re ready to go.”
It looks highly likely that Kawhi Leonard will be back for Game 3 in San Antonio, but will his return be enough to stop the Warriors on their home floor? We’ll find out on Saturday.
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