Spurs’ Game 4 keys to victory
Come to play: Even without Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and eventually David Lee, the Spurs made a game of it in Game 3 by playing with a belief and confidence they had lacked for much of their Game 2 pratfall in Oakland. That same approach will be necessary Monday if the Spurs aim to fend off elimination. With Manu Ginobili and Jonathon Simmons leading the charge, the Spurs were within three points in the third quarter before Kevin Durant put them away. The Warriors’ quartet of All-Stars are probably too much for the depleted Spurs to handle anyway. If the Spurs are going to go down, at least they can make Golden State work for its ticket to the NBA Finals.
Hope for help: Ginobili said it best after Game 3. For the Spurs to win in this series, they are going to have to play an almost perfect game plus get an off night from the Warriors. “For us to win, we have to play at a 10 level. And we have to try and make them play at a 7.” The Warriors don’t need to be perfect. Just good enough. The short-handed Spurs hung with Golden State for a while in Game 3. Then Durant turned in the highest-scoring quarter of his postseason career with 19 points in the third, and that was all she wrote. Given their injury woes, the Spurs can’t survive even a good night from the Warriors. In order for the Spurs to extend the series and avoid getting swept for only the third time under Gregg Popovich, Golden State is going to have to help them out.
Be careful: The Spurs entered the series without Parker, out for the season after suffering a ruptured left quadriceps tendon against Houston. Leonard went down, perhaps for the count, with a sprained left ankle in Game 1 in Oakland. Lee hobbled off the floor in the first quarter Saturday, having turned in perhaps his best shift of the series. The rash of injuries have left Popovich to patch together rotations using plenty of rookies and role players. The trial by fire has provided good experience to players such as Jonathon Simmons, Dejounte Murray, Kyle Anderson and Davis Bertans. The Spurs, however, probably can’t weather another major injury to a rotation piece. Even the Coyote needs to be careful.