Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference finals was as wild and woolly as one imagined, though the lingering fallout could eventually scuttle San Antonio’s championship hopes.
The Spurs have plenty to worry about. San Antonio gave up a 25-point first-half lead in Game 1, falling to the Golden State Warriors by a 113-111 mark in the opening contest of their conference final series after looking dominant to begin the afternoon. Stephen Curry overcame a slow start typical of his entire Golden State crew, tossing in 40 points in the win over San Antonio, which was without Kawhi Leonard for the final 20 minutes.
Leonard, already smarting from a sprained left ankle that cost him an appearance in San Antonio’s last contest (a Game 6 series-clinching victory over Houston) originally re-injured the ankle after stepping on a teammate’s foot on his own sideline in the third quarter. A few plays later, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia did his part to put San Antonio’s series in peril:SS-100-202
A pair of Leonard free throws gave the Spurs a 78-55 lead, but San Antonio’s injury-wrecked roster was no match for Golden State’s waves of depth and dead-eye shooting.
Pachulia added insult to injury by nailing a jumper directly after Leonard left the game for good, the first basket of what turned into an 18-0 run for the Warriors. In fewer than 3 1/2 minutes of action, the Warriors drew what once appeared to be yet another blowout San Antonio road win into a two-possession game, mostly on the back of the man who made a point to start up his own personal run even before Leonard limped off the floor.
Stephen Curry, at 40 points, made 14-25 shots on the afternoon, overcoming a 4-10 start to lead his team to its ninth win in nine tries during the 2017 postseason. His 19-point, third quarter performance was rather affecting:
“We just controlled what we could control, and play smarter,” Curry told ABC’s Doris Burke following the win. “They were playing well but we were beating ourselves pretty much the whole first quarter. Not getting stops, not getting rebounds. It’s the playoffs, though, and you have to take a win any way you can get it.”
Any which way, huh, Steph?
The eyes of the sporting world will be on Pachulia, following the uneasy Golden State win. Not exactly known for dirty play, the first-year Warriors center has made a name for himself as a cranky yet versatile veteran big man for six different clubs. His close-out work on Leonard, not typical for the lugubrious 33-year old Pachulia, will be studied a great deal as the Spurs await word on the severity of Leonard’s ankle injury. [/restrict]