The Golden State Warriors completely outplayed the San Antonio Spurs for 44 minutes in Game 1. Unfortunately, that is not how long an NBA game lasts.
The Spurs fought and scrapped and ground out a victory after two overtimes to narrowly maintain their home-court advantage. And just like that, the upstart Warriors seemed to have dug themselves into an insurmountable hole.
The veteran savvy of the Spurs' Big Three carried them through to start the series, albeit barely, but with Tim Duncan's flu subsiding, Golden State may not sniff another victory.
Time: Wednesday, May 8, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Series Record: 1-0 Spurs
Game 2 Key Storyline: Can the Warriors Get up off the Canvas?
Golden State actually won both its home games against the Spurs, though one required overtime and the other came in the second-to-last game of the season with Matt Bonner and Cory Joseph starting.
And the heartbreaking double-overtime loss may have served as a death blow to the Dubs' confidence.
The Warriors did everything they could to give away Game 6 against the Denver Nuggets. After leading by 18 points with just over nine minutes remaining, Golden State had to protect a two-point advantage in the final minute.
393 teams have taken a 16+ point lead into the final four minutes of a playoff game. The Warriors are the first of those teams to lose.— Matt Craine (@mattcraine) May 7, 2013
The Dubs one-upped themselves on Monday night, becoming the first team in playoff history to squander a 16-point lead with only four minutes left in a game.
This loss goes on second-year coach Mark Jackson. After that almost happens to your team one time in the postseason because of careless errors and bad shots, you cannot let it occur again, especially not in the very next game!
Golden State threw everything they had at the Spurs and came up just short in Game 1. You cannot let road playoff wins slip away.
Gregg Popovich will be furiously dissecting the Warriors' attack to devise a plan for slowing down Stephen Curry, who turned in a sensational game. The Spurs will come out hot in Game 2, and Golden State's golden opportunity may have slipped away.
Series Star So Far: Stephen Curry
Steph Curry played 58 minutes in Game 1 and put on a show. He poured in 44 points on 18-of-35 shooting with 11 assists.
After breaking the record for three-pointers in the regular season, Curry has become a shooting spectacle in the postseason.
Curry could have used a breather after his 22-point third quarter, as he appeared a bit winded down the stretch, but the slick-shooting point guard is still blossoming into one of the league's young stars before our eyes.
Projected Starting Lineups
Golden State: Stephen Curry, PG; Klay Thompson, SG; Harrison Barnes, SF; Festus Ezeli, PF; Andrew Bogut, C
San Antonio: Tony Parker, PG; Danny Green, SG; Kawhi Leonard, SF; Tim Duncan, PF; Boris Diaw, C
Warriors Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
David Lee (hip), questionable
Spurs Injury Report
Tiago Splitter (ankle), questionable
Warriors Will Win If...
They shoot the lights out from both the field and the foul line.
The Warriors did it once, and they can do it again. But another shooting performance like Monday night's 51 percent from the field will be increasingly difficult as San Antonio makes adjustments.
Jarrett Jack threw in a clunker in Game 1, shooting just 5-of-15, and he must improve his shot selection against the active Spurs defense.
The Warriors also shot a woeful 14-of-24 from the charity stripe. Amazingly, Carl Landry, Richard Jefferson and Andrew Bogut combined to miss nine of their 11 free-throw attempts. In a game that needed two overtimes to decide a winner, better foul shooting could have made all the difference.
Golden State has carved out a clear playoff identity which shocked the Denver Nuggets: small ball and hot shooting. Entering Game 2, the Warriors have been the best shooting team in the playoffs at 49.7 percent.
Unfortunately for them, the Spurs are second-best at 47.8 percent.
The Dubs have to shoot their way to victory, and if they could do it from the foul line as well, they'd be up 1-0 in the series.
Spurs Will Win If...
They play better in the paint and maintain the pesky defense.
Golden State outscored the Spurs in the paint 52-42 in Game 1, and it had nothing to do with starting Festus Ezeli, because he scored exactly zero points.
Tim Duncan was battling some form of the flu and played "only" 34 of the 58 minutes. He will be the key to preventing the Warriors from piling up points in the frontcourt, and he will likely be eager to improve on his game-low minus-14 rating from Game 1.
Bogut, Landry, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green combined for 47 points and 40 rebounds in Game 1. Granted, there were two overtimes played, but San Antonio has too much quality up front to get outplayed like that. Its big men managed only 22 boards.
Staying stout up front will be a key, but the Spurs must maintain the pressure on the ball and continue forcing Golden State into committing turnovers. They coughed up the ball 21 times in Game 1 to just 14 for San Antonio, and it's no coincidence—they're averaging 19 turnovers per game, the most in the playoffs.
Pressure on the ball and protecting the paint will be keys for San Antonio, as those are areas in which they're supposed to beat the Warriors. Golden State will rain down its shots, and the Spurs can't control that beyond closing out quickly. But limiting easy buckets and letting the Dubs commit mistakes can serve as easy paths to victory.
The Spurs have been so good for so long that it would be foolish to bet against them.
Will the Warriors win both of their home games?
Golden State shocked Duncan and company for most of Game 1, but the Spurs won't get caught napping again, at least not at home.
It's hard to say what should be expected from the Warriors once they return to Oakland. Maybe they could defend their home court, but they did not enjoy much dominance at Oracle Arena; their 28-13 home record was the worst among all Western Conference playoff teams.
But they still have one game remaining in San Antonio, and the Spurs will come out on Wednesday and prove that Game 1 was just a fluke.
Prediction: Spurs 105, Warriors 93