Pacers, Spurs win easily to take control of NBA playoff series
Indiana has a commanding 3-1 lead over the Knicks in their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Meanwhile, San Antonio enjoys a 3-2 lead over Golden State in their Western Conference semifinal.
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San Antonio Spurs veteran guard Tony Parker, interviewed after Tuesday night’s resounding 109-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors, remarked that his team decided they had to shut down Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ perimeter shooting specialist, to give them a chance to win. And that’s exactly what the Spurs did in moving to a 3-2 Western Conference series lead over Golden State at San Antonio’s AT&T Center.
Parker credited Curry’s timely threes in last weekend’s contest as critical in getting the Warriors and their fans charged up to win. So the Spurs guards decided to stick to him like glue for 48 minutes and it proved devastatingly effective: Curry, who had been averaging 26 points per game, notched only 9 in Game 5 – including only 1-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc, to go with four turnovers. And Curry’s fellow backcourt standout, Klay Thompson, usually a reliable perimeter threat, hit only 2-of-8 from the field without a single three-point attempt.
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But probably the most pleasant surprise for the Spurs this series has been the solid play of Kawhi Leonard, who Tuesday night scored 17 points and is shooting 58% from the floor for the series. During the critical third and early fourth periods, Leonard and Parker drove the paint almost at will to finally move the game out of reach, after the Warriors had pared the deficit to within four points at different points during the third quarter.
On the Warriors side, with Curry and Thompson effectively neutralized, the heavy lifting essentially fell to bench guard Jarrett Jack (20 points), former Purdue star Carl Landry (16 points) and newly minted “All Rookie Team” member Harrison Barnes, who hit for 25 points, including two three-pointers, as well as a team high 7 rebounds.
With hobbled big men Andrew Bogut and David Lee seeing limited action, the thrust of Golden State’s attack has been waged at the perimeter, with only Harrison Barnes making meaningful journeys into the paint. And now that San Antonio has figured out the Curry-Thompson tandem, it may be difficult at best for the Warriors to overcome San Antonio’s superior inside play.