Now we’ll really see what the Warriors are made of.
Golden State took a punch to the gut (figuratively, of course) tonight, falling to the Spurs 109-91 in Game 5. The box score will tell you the Dubs lost by 18 points, and while that doesn’t tell the true story of the game, the fact remains that the Warriors are now facing their first elimination game of this postseason when Game 6 tips off on Thursday.
San Antonio did what they had to do. They maintained their home court advantage, and continued a trend in which neither side has been able to win consecutive games in the series thus far. You had a feeling that if the Spurs were going to put together a dominant performance, it was probably going to come in this game. And…well…they didn’t disappoint.
It wasn’t the blowout it turned out to be for the majority of the game, as San Antonio inflated their margin of victory with a sequence of extended runs in the fourth quarter. But make no mistake, they earned this win after carrying a slim three-point lead into halftime and refused to give it up.
The story of the game can be summed up pretty easily. The Spurs’ stars played very well, while the Warriors’ key players underwhelmed. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were their typical steady selves and put together performances you’d expect from a couple of future Hall-of-Famers. But the difference in the contest might have been San Antonio’s role players. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were very efficient on the offensive end, and did a great job defending the Warriors’ sharpshooting guards. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were held to nine and four points, respectively, (on a combined 6-of-22 shooting) and could never seem to find a rhythm when the Warriors needed them most.
There were some bright spots for Golden State, despite the loss. Harrison Barnes put on another show, becoming the first rookie to score 25-or-more points in consecutive playoff games since (guess who?) … the Big Fundamental himself, Tim Duncan in 1998. After hoisting a career-high 26 attempts in Game 4, Barnes backed that up in Game 5 with another 18 tonight, and shot 56 percent from the floor. His growth in the playoffs has been a very promising sign for Golden State, particularly when you consider that he’s taken a significant brunt of the scoring responsibility after David Lee went down with the hip flexor injury. He’s shown that he has the ability to get his shot when he wants it, and as this team gains more and more experience, he will receive more opportunities to be the focal point of the offense, which he’s proven he deserves.
Aside from Barnes, Jarrett Jack also produced another quality output. His 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting kept the Warriors in the game through the middle quarters, which proved necessary with Curry and Thompson having off-nights. The Warriors won’t be happy with the result tonight, but at the very least, there are some positives they can take into Game 6. And they’ll need it, because there is no more room for error. It’s win or go home. Lucky for the Dubs, they’ll have the added boost of their home crowd in the first true must-win game most of their players have ever faced in their professional careers.
There’s not much else to say. The Spurs handled their business when they had to, and now the Warriors must do the same. There’s no denying the Warriors have surpassed all expectations with their incredible postseason run this far, but don’t believe for one second that they’re satisfied with that. It takes four losses in a series to get knocked out, and even though the Warriors took a shot to the gut, they’re not down for the count.
It’s time to get back up off the mat. Game 6 on Thursday will be the Warriors’ most important game in more than three decades. Their backs are against the wall, but they’re not out of it yet.
It’s time to leave it all on the floor.
Win or go home.