Feeding lambs to the lions
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - May 18, 2017 - 4:00pm

Before the Leonard/Pachulia incident, San Antonio had been playing like they’re supposed to.  In fact, even without their best player, they eliminated Houston in Game 6 of the semis.  The Rockets are a strong team with several talented scorers yet, the Spurs, starring Manu Ginobili in the twilight of his career, prevailed.  Maybe that time, they feel confident that the team will have Kawhi back and in form for the conference finals.  Then crap happened.

The Warriors demolished whatever semblance of competitiveness from the Spurs.  With a San Antonio defense not even worthy of guarding a lunch buffet spread, Golden State fired at will en route to a 10-0 playoff start and from all indications could lead all the way to the Finals.

Stephen Curry is to blame for all of this.  He had been quietly but consistently dominant.  Starting from that close out win over Utah up to the Game 2 victory the other day, Curry scored a total of 99 points in 54 attempts.  His three-point shooting has gotten better in the post season converting almost 44% of his attempts from beyond.

In 10 playoff games, Curry made 45 threes in 103 attempts.  In the conference finals, he made more threes (13 of 21) than the entire Spurs team (12 of 36).  And we’re not even talking about Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

San Antonio’s point guards can’t go toe-to-toe with Curry.  The only thing that can stop him is to tire him out, then he makes lazy passes and misses his shots.  The Spurs don’t have the personnel to do this and yes, Curry will continue to be on fire.

With Kawhi out, LaMarcus Aldridge is supposed to take over as San Antonio’s leader but he looked lost and often was out of position.  There was that play in the second quarter where he made a second step and slid his foot under a shooting Durant.  Yep, KD’s right foot landed on LMA’s extended left foot but luckily, KD’s jump shooting style has the right foot slightly raised thus when he landed on it, his foot didn’t roll.

Aldridge looked awkward with the action.  Was that a payback move?  We can only speculate.  Maybe yes, maybe no and like Pachulia, LMA can always deny that there was no intent.  Undercutting an airborne player needs lots of practice.  Yes, you take out one or two of the opposing team’s best players and you effectively cripple them.  LMA could have the right motive but the way it was executed was plain obvious.  

The will to win was not in Aldridge.  He was not assertive as he chose to be complacent, was gun shy and refused to score in the first quarter, thereby scoring only two points in the first half.  Only 8 total points for the whole game?  Spurs nation expected so much from him as Pau Gasol, who was always soft, had gotten softer.

Pachulia reportedly got his heel injured after a dunk and will be doubtful for Sunday’s Game 3.  The Georgian center is a rough player and he’s dependable when things get rowdy.  Talent is wanting but any team in the NBA will have good use of him.  With or without Zaza, the Warriors are still a super team and will dominate.

This off season, would-be NBA enforcers should get a crash course in the ABCs of roughhousing from Sonny Jaworksi.  And come to think of it, if Greg Popovich had the mind of Jawo when the Game 1 thing happened, either Curry, KD, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green or all of them could be nursing different injuries.  And yes, Pachulia could have a specifically dedicated series-ending injury.  Surely, truly, coach Pop is missing Bruce Bowen this time.

With the Spurs just going thru the motions in Game 2, I doubt if they’ll even get a win.  The team is demoralized and had given up.  Popovich could be playing mind games this time and conceded the series to the Warriors.  He could be getting even with the league by fielding second stringers now that their chances are going to the sewers.  In so doing, Western Conference Finals ratings will drop and it means lesser revenue for the NBA. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kawhi won’t see action on Sunday and on Game 4.  Coach Pop cares for his players that he will not be risking further injuries to Leonard.

San Antonio’s season ended with Leonard’s injury.  Conference championships are not supposed to be this way and the WC Finals is not worth watching anymore.  In all fairness to the Warriors, they deserve everything and had the good fortune of a healthy crew, with the exception of Andre Iguodala and to some extent Coach Steve Kerr.  This series is a massacre, a feeding frenzy.  Lambs for lions.There’s no feel for the game.  Let’s all shift our attention to the Cleveland-Boston series.

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