The Warriors have faced plenty of obstacles and challenges this season but one thing they haven’t faced is this: An elimination game.
That they’re facing it later than most people ever thought – or even at all -- is certainly encouraging. But it doesn’t mean Golden State doesn’t want to stave it off as long as possible.
The Warriors dropped Game 5 to the Spurs 109-91 on Tuesday night in San Antonio, and now they will need to win consecutive games – one at Oracle on Thursday and another on Sunday in San Antonio – to advance to the Western Conference finals.
If the Warriors hope to have any chance of extending this series, they’re going to have to get bounce-back games from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson … preferably both, but at least one, for sure.
That starting backcourt combined to shoot just 6-for-22 from the floor, including 1-for-7 from the 3-point line in Tuesday’s loss. They combined for eight assists and six turnovers and had only two rebounds between them.
Neither was great at the defensive end, either, though Curry particularly struggled keeping his man out of the lane. If you’re looking for some good news, it’s this: The Warriors are 4-0 in games after losses this postseason.
But the Warriors are going to have to play a lot better than they did on Tuesday to extend this series – not just the team’s backcourt but also center Andrew Bogut.
He played 19-plus minutes but wasn’t as effective as he’s been throughout the series. Bogut didn’t seem to be moving as well laterally in Game 5, as the Spurs seemed to be getting better looks than normal up close after penetration.
Bogut also picked up enough fouls over the course of his playing time that he just couldn’t establish any kind of rhythm or get into a flow.
Bogut said on Wednesday that his ankle was fine, more than suggesting that his limited minutes were a coaching decision and not a health one.
If the Warriors can take solace in one aspect of the game it would likely have to be 3-point shooting. In an unusual twist, the Spurs went 10-for-21 from beyond the arc, while the Warriors made just 6-of-16.
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As the series has moved along, the Warriors seem to be able to rely on their 3-point shooting less and less. Whether it’s Warriors’ fatigue or the Spurs beginning to figure out some ways to cope with the longball doesn’t really matter at this point.
What matters is whether or not the Warriors can re-tinker themselves and find a way to re-establish themselves from deep. The outside shot is, after all, the team’s foundation.
And the outside shot will likely determine whether or not the Warriors can make an improbable trip to the Western Conference finals. But first they must win a Game 6 on Thursday night at Oracle Arena.