The Golden State Warriors team that finished the regular season with a 7-10 record over its last 17 games is not the one the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the National Basketball Association will be getting in the first round of the playoffs and beyond.
Patty Mills and the San Antonio Spurs have had to make do with the freaky absence of their MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, who missed all but nine games on the season with a quad issue.
The Warriors grabbed a commanding 2-0 lead over the Spurs with a 116-101 home win in Game 2. "So we'll fight as hard as we can in Game 2". You got out there in Game 1 and you hammer a team.
John Wall had 23 points and 15 assists for the Wizards, while Markieff Morris had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Aldridge led all scorers with 34 points, thanks in large part to the 32-year-old connecting on all 12 of his free throw attempts.
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"I was really happy with their execution, and their aggressiveness", Popovich said of his players.
San Antonio, meanwhile, was drubbed 126-99 in Game 1 of the Western semifinals by the Houston Rockets last May, only to turn things around immediately with an equally decisive 121-96 blitz in Game 2 en route to an eventual six-game victory in the series.
David West added 10 points in 14 minutes off the bench, in addition to four rebounds, two assists and one block on 3-of-3 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from the charity stripe.
Much of the credit for the Spurs' struggles can be attributed to a Warriors squad that was active on defense and the boards, leaving San Antonio in a constant uphill battle.
The Warriors said all week it's a new season, then went out and showed it.
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"I thought we were prepared mentally and physically, but I was mistaken".
In addition to scoring their highest total in more than a week, the team held the Spurs to 40.0 percent from the field. His ability to match up with the Spurs has created an advantage for the Warriors, which they will need to be able to exploit even more during the rest of the series. But They somehow caught on to head coach Steve Kerr's insistence that they must have "ball security" to pull out the victory. At the team's lowest point last month, the Big Four - Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant - were all absent for two consecutive losses against IN and Utah at home. That's how the Spurs started the game.
The Raptors host Game 2 on Tuesday. The Spurs did not have enough to counter the Warriors' depth. Golden State won the 2017-18 season series, 3-1. Through two games, the Warriors have now outscored the Spurs by 36 points off three-pointers. Golden State was 19-20 from the line on the night.
San Antonio had led 67-66 with just over four minutes left in the third, but two sublime back-to-back three-pointers from Durant helped the Warriors pull clear to 74-67. When Thompson, one of the best shooters in the league, catches fire, it's nearly impossible to put him out, and the Warriors made sure to get him the ball in the second and third quarters.
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