The San Antonio Spurs have taken a 2-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA playoffs, thanks to an impressive 102-92 win at ORACLE Arena on Friday.
We learned in Game 3 what we all assumed, that the Warriors can't win if both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have average to below-average performances.
Curry and Thompson combined for just 33 points on 12-of-37 shooting from the field and 6-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc.
Tony Parker almost outscored the Warriors' dynamic duo by himself, with 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting from the field. While only eight of those points came in the second half, it was enough to get the job done.
More impressive than any offensive performance, though, was the Spurs' collective team defense, especially on the Warriors' perimeter offense—led by Danny Green, who shut Curry down throughout the night.
Tim Duncan's double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds didn't help the Warriors either, as he seemed to knock down shots at pivotal moments throughout the night.
If the Warriors want to even this series before it heads back to San Antonio, they will have to figure out how to overcome Green's defense on Curry and pray that both Thompson and Curry don't have off nights at the same time.
Stephen Curry, PG Warriors
Once the Spurs switched Danny Green onto Stephen Curry, he forgot how to shoot the ball.
Well, he couldn't even get open looks, and when he did he slightly turned his left ankle. Either way, Curry had a very off night with 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-9 shooting from deep.
While Curry slightly made up for his below-average offensive performance with eight assists, his defense minimized the impact of those dimes.
Curry didn't score a field goal after knocking down a big-time three-pointer with 6:20 left in the third quarter that tied the game at 65 apiece—and that's a testament to the Spurs' tenacious defense.
In Game 4 and beyond the Warriors have to focus on getting Curry more open looks, because they can't survive if he's scoring around 15 points on 30 percent shooting. Let's hope that his turned ankle late in the fourth quarter isn't more than a minor injury.
Overall Grade: C
Tony Parker, PG Spurs
25 points on 11-of-14 shooting in the first half?
Yep, Tony Parker was absolutely on fire in the first two quarters, outscoring both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who had 12 points combined in the first half.
Parker ended Game 3 with 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting from the field, and while he scored just seven points in the final two quarters, the Warriors' defensive pressure on him opened up the floor for the rest of the Spurs.
The Warriors will have to figure out how to either stop Parker in the next game or at least force him to take more contested shots, because on Friday night it was like he was just shooting in an open gym.
He also had five assists and five rebounds to go along with his 32 points, which balances out his overall performance.
Overall Grade: A
Danny Green, SG Spurs
While Danny Green didn't score a single point in the first half, his defensive switch onto Stephen Curry was an absolute difference-maker for the Spurs.
Green didn't allow Curry to score a single basket in the second quarter, and he knocked down a huge three-pointer that stopped the Warriors' 9-0 run that brought them within one with 10 minutes left in the game.
While Green's stat line of three points, three assists and four rebounds doesn't sound impressive, his defense throughout the game—specifically on Curry—was absolutely exceptional. It was truly the X-factor in Game 3, as he made Curry's night miserable every time he defended him.
If defense truly does win championships, the Spurs are a step above their competition with Green's tenacious perimeter defense. The Warriors have a tough task of figuring out how to overcome it as the series moves on.
Overall Grade: B+
Klay Thompson, SG Warriors
With just three points on 1-of-4 shooting in the first half, it appeared that Klay Thompson was having a hangover from his epic Game 2 performance.
Well, it took him just one minute and 30 seconds into the second half to outdo his first-half production, with two quick jumpers that got the Warriors back within a single possession at the 10:26 mark of the third quarter.
Unfortunately, Thompson just couldn't keep knocking down perimeter jumpers, ending the night with a team-high 17 points, but on 7-of-20 shooting from the field.
He also failed to facilitate to his teammates, with just two assists, and he also failed to get to the foul line even once.
In Game 4 and beyond, Thompson absolutely must be more efficient, because if he's not then the pressure mounts on Stephen Curry. And against the Spurs' tenacious defense, Curry may not be able to carry the Warriors alone.
Overall Grade: B-
Kawhi Leonard, SF Spurs
As usual, Kawhi Leonard quietly put together a very respectable and productive night.
He ended Game 3 with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and nine rebounds (two offensive), and his defense also forced a number of turnovers that led to points for the Spurs.
Much like Danny Green, Leonard's defensive pressure—especially on the perimeter—was exceptional throughout the night. He constantly contested jump shots while also committing just two personal fouls.
Leonard is a very well-disciplined player, and he's certainly a difference-maker for the Spurs. He will continue to be one throughout this series with a Warriors team that has a legitimate athletic advantage.
Overall Grade: A-
Harrison Barnes, SF Warriors
12 points and eight rebounds isn't a terrible stat line for Harrison Barnes. The only problem was that it wasn't enough for the Warriors, considering the lackluster production from Curry and Thompson.
Barnes grabbed three offensive boards and created second-chance opportunities for his teammates. But he failed to keep Kawhi Leonard off the glass and he couldn't stop him consistently enough on the defensive side of the ball.
He did knock down a big jumper that pulled the Warriors within five points with 2:47 left in the fourth quarter, but his team just couldn't capitalize.
Overall Grade: B-
Tim Duncan, PF Spurs
Well, they don't call him the "Big Fundamental" for nothing.
Tim Duncan methodically took the Warriors down every time they were on a run, and he did so with his aggressiveness and finesse at the rim and his patented jumper out on the perimeter.
With 23 points and 10 rebounds on 10-of-21 shooting from the field, Duncan had a very productive and impactful night.
What's so impressive about Duncan's game is that he never rushes his offense, even when his team is down or facing a run by his opponent. Solid stuff by Duncan, and if he continues to play at this level of productivity and efficiency, the Spurs are going to be headed to the Western Conference Finals.
Overall Grade: A
Festus Ezeli, PF/C Warriors
Zero points, three rebounds and three personal fouls in 15 minutes of action just won't cut it for Festus Ezeli in this series.
While he was inserted into the starting lineup to match up with the Spurs' size, I'm guessing Mark Jackson will find another rotation for Game 4 that has him starting on the bench.
Ezeli was overwhelmed with Duncan's agile first step, and that was a major reason why his defensive impact was minimized early on. Rough night for Ezeli overall.
Overall Grade: F
Tiago Splitter, C Spurs
The Spurs got their Game-3 win in spite of what Tiago Splitter did out on the floor.
While that's tough to read, it's absolutely true. Splitter scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes, but he committed two of the Spurs' 11 turnovers, which hurt them in their offensive sets.
As usual, he also picked up four personal fouls rather quickly, which worked out for the Spurs because Boris Diaw came in and replaced him with some solid production.
Overall Grade: D+
Andrew Bogut, C Warriors
The Warriors need Andrew Bogut to be more aggressive because he has the ability to try and get Tim Duncan in foul trouble and dominate the game around the rim.
He ended Game 3 with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting, with 12 rebounds.
Sure, he picked up five personal fouls, which forced him to miss a chunk of time in the second half. But if he can play more disciplined, the Warriors can greatly benefit from having his presence in the interior.
With Bogut playing aggressively, a bit of pressure will be taken off Curry and Thompson on the perimeter, and the benefits of that will be absolutely huge for the Warriors.
If Bogut isn't aggressive in Game 4, the odds of Golden State evening the series up at two games a piece will be very low.
Overall Grade: B
Manu Ginobili, SG Spurs
In spite of Manu Ginobili's inefficient shooting performance, which saw him shoot just 4-of-11 from the field and 1-of-8 from beyond the arc, he still had a productive game.
Ginobili ended Game 3 with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
It was nice to see Ginobili start to facilitate the offense instead of forcing it, especially when his shot just wasn't falling.
Patience and efficiency is the name of the game for Ginobili, and that's especially true as this series rages on.
Overall Grade: B
Jarrett Jack, PG Warriors
On paper, Jarrett Jack had a productive night with 11 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal. And even with his 5-of-12 shooting performance, it looks like Jack had a solid game.
The only problem with those stats is that it doesn't show his poor shot selection, especially late in the game.
A number of times, Jack put up questionable shots instead of deferring to teammates who were better suited to put up higher-percentage shots.
He also had two turnovers, with one of them coming with under one minute in the fourth quarter that sealed the Warriors' fate.
Overall Grade: C+
San Antonio Spurs Bench
The highlight of the Spurs bench was Boris Diaw, who ended the night with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.
In his minutes replacing the foul-prone Tiago Splitter, Diaw made a serious impact on the court, and he did so by patiently waiting for offensive opportunities—which was a big difference-maker in the second half.
Aside from his production and Manu Ginobili's 12 points, the Spurs bench didn't yield much results, and that was fine because their starting lineup was getting the job done without them.
The best part of their bench performance was the 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which helped solidify the Spurs throughout Game 3.
Overall Grade: B
Golden State Warriors Bench
The Warriors bench, with 36 points, outscored the Spurs bench by 11, but they shot just 13-of-31 from the field.
David Lee's five points and two rebounds in just three minutes was a great impact in the first quarter, but it was also a cruel reminder of just how much the Warriors miss his presence on the court.
Carl Landry had a great night with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists in just 26 minutes of action. He also shot 5-of-8 from the field.
I'd like to see Mark Jackson work him into the starting lineup or at least give him more minutes, because he can bring intensity and production to the Warriors' interior, which has been lacking as of late.
Overall Grade: B