But, that kind of hypothetical scenario goes against the spirit of this column, which is meant to use numbers to understand what actually happened in the game and why. I think he's one of the best players in this league and I wish him all the best to get healthy. "You know, they're hungry, and they made great runs". Kevin Durant dropped 20 points after the break on just 12 field-goal attempts.
San Antonio was cruising, much like it had been at the end of the Rockets series, before Warriors center Zaza Pachulia put his foot under Kawhi Leonard's left ankle following a jump shot. Curry had the Spurs' defense frantic.
NOTES: The only other teams to rally from more than a 20-point halftime deficit in National Basketball Association playoff history were the Cleveland Cavaliers (25 points) earlier this season against the Indiana Pacers, and the Baltimore Bullets (21 points) against the Philadelphia Warriors in 1948. Lately it's been that a role player's injury would have prevented the Golden State machine from steamrolling that team.
"It's very hard to react to a game like this", veteran Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 40 points and seven rebounds.
The Spurs had a 21-point lead with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter. Leonard re-injured his left ankle after scoring 26 points and grabbing eight rebounds. San Antonio finished with 17 turnovers and Golden State had 19. In the 24.1 minutes he didn't, the Warriors held a 70-47 advantage.
Two of the biggest stars on one side delivered when the best player on the other went down.
Despite the loss, the Spurs still managed to do a lot of positive things on the defensive end. Golden State showed just why they are so risky - they can win by playing a handsome brand of team basketball, or simply by putting the ball in the hands of their two best players. For a brief second, Golden State's championship aspirations seemed to be in jeopardy. So, anytime the Spurs can coax the Warriors into running isolations, and limiting the ball movement that's a little victory.
His 3-pointer with 7:53 to play got Golden State within 94-88, then he drove to his left and right by Kyle Anderson for an emphatic one-handed slam the next possession to ignite a deafening sellout crowd. That's four fewer wide open three point tries than their regular season average. In Game 1, San Antonio forced the Warriors to go just 15/26 (57.7%) in the restricted area and 12/29 (41.4%) at the rim. Popovich's coaching adjustments, along with the team's veterans Pau Gasol, Patty Mills, Danny Green and David Lee should all be ready to step in for Leonard, just like the bunch did for Tony Parker.
This also is a tribute to Brown's even-keeled approach and deference to Kerr throughout this process and especially on Sunday, when he had to switch-up the rotations on the fly because Andre Iguodala was limited to only 10 minutes (and none in the second half) and because the Spurs were playing at such a high level. Let's not lose sight of the fact that even after the 18-point run, the Spurs very almost hung on to win because of the old guy and the young kid. I thought the rebounding hurt us. He is expected to miss Game 2 on Tuesday.