Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs Feast Defensively on Stephen Curry-less Warriors
Leading up to Friday night’s matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors, one had to think of their meeting in the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs where they played each other well and almost all six games had both teams flirting with 100 points. However, that’s not at all how Friday night’s matchup played out.
The game between San Antonio and Golden State was an ugly one and was without one of the Warriors’ key players in point guard Stephen Curry, who was sidelined with a foot/ankle injury. The result was an ugly defensive struggle that ultimately resulted in the Spurs coming out with a 76-74 victory.
One of the notable things from the Spurs win was how they were so classically San Antonio defensively, namely by taking advantage of Golden State’s biggest weakness with the game.
Though he comes under a lot of scrutiny for not being a true point guard, there’s no denying that Curry is the primary ball-handler for the Warriors and that he’s defter in that area than his fellow backcourt mates Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. The Spurs, specifically fantastic young defender Kawhi Leonard, were able to take advantage of that and force a lot of turnovers.
Leonard finished the game with four steals to his name alone while San Antonio forced the Warriors to commit 20 turnovers on the evening. Iguodala committed six of his own and the five Warriors starters combined for 15 of their turnovers. It was clear they missed Curry handling the rock.
Though it wasn’t pretty, San Antonio’s ability to pounce on a weakness of their opponent still gives them the ability to win most games that they are a part of. They are still a great defensive team and, when their offense is clicking better than it did on Friday, can normally put you away with their well-oiled offense as well. They may be getting older, but the Spurs are still getting it done.