HEADLINE

Spurs need reversal of fortune to beat Warriors

The Sports Xchange

April 21, 2018 at 5:13 pm.

Nothing much has gone right for the San Antonio Spurs in the first three games — all definitive losses — to the Golden State Warriors in their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Now, with the prospect of a second consecutive four-game playoff sweep by Golden State, everything has to go right for the Spurs to even extend the series past Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

San Antonio will be behind the eight ball even before the game tips off as the team announced Saturday that coach Gregg Popovich will again be missing from the sidelines as he remains with his family in the aftermath of his wife’s death Wednesday.

Popovich did not coach the Spurs during their 110-97 loss to Golden State in Game 3 on Thursday, handing those duties over to first assistant Ettore Messina.

Messina will also be at the helm Sunday as San Antonio tries to stay alive and push the series to a fifth game Tuesday in Oakland. But even those chances are slim, and it’s all but a given that the Warriors will win the series and move on to the conference semifinals.

The Spurs lost Thursday because they didn’t shoot well, a theme throughout the first three games of the series. San Antonio shot 42.5 percent from the field and made only 7 of 33 from 3-point range. That poor performance from beyond the arc came after a 4-for-28 showing from long distance in Game 2 on Monday.

“Our guys focused in and we came in and we played,” said Spurs All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who led the team in Game 3 with 18 points and 10 rebounds. “It’s been the same thing. We just aren’t making shots that are there.

“They’re (Warriors) doubling and doing their things. We have open shots, but they just aren’t going in. Our guys are competing, following the game plan, and trying to give ourselves a shot, but when don’t make shots, it’s always tough.”

Tony Parker added 16 points off the bench for San Antonio in Game 3, bit most of those points came in garbage time, when things were already out of hand.

The teams could not have had a more contrasting series over the first three games, as for everything the Spurs have done wrong, Golden State has done right. It’s been a totally dominating performance so far for the defending NBA champions, even without guard Stephen Curry — who is out rehabbing a knee injury.

Kevin Durant led the Warriors in Game 3 with 26 points on 9-for-17 shooting, nine rebounds and six assists. Klay Thompson added 19 points, and Shawn Livingston hit for 16. In all, six players scored in double figures for Golden State.

Thompson said the Warriors’ success in the first three games has been predicated on their willingness to go the extra mile on defense.

“We rely on our defense when we’re not making shots,” Thompson said. “Our defense can be a constant for us and dictate how far you play. If we get open looks, they’re eventually going to fall.”

Durant and Livingston rolled their ankles in the fourth quarter of Game 3, adding some suspense, at least on the injury front, for Sunday’s game.

“They’re going to be OK,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant and Livingston. “Shaun’s was probably a little worse than Kevin’s. Both sprained ankles, but I think they’ll be all right.”

 

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