San Antonio hid the brooms on Sunday, beating Golden State, 103-90, to bring the series to 3-1. Here are three things to note from the unlikely win:
Manu Adds One More Highlight to His Résumé
Nothing definitive has been said about Manu Ginobili’s future after this season, but his Game 4 performance would be a fitting grand finale in front of the San Antonio crowd if it plays out that way. There were a few Argentina jerseys in the stands at AT&T Center, and Ginobili had 16 points—i.e., far more than his single-digit averages from this and the previous three Spurs postseasons—to fend off the Warriors’ sweep bid. The 40-year-old also scored eight of San Antonio’s final 10 points, including this crucial bucket:
With Kawhi Leonard still not with the team, it’s hard to know what will become of the roster this summer. If Leonard is traded and the team is forced into a hard reset for the first time in decades, Manu would have less incentive to come back for a 17th season. But with Tim Duncan already retired and Gregg Popovich on leave from the team, it was good to see a member of the old guard still making an impact, even if it was only for old times’ sake.
A Not-So-Golden State
Nothing has come as easily as expected this season for the Warriors. So it’s only appropriate that a series that seemed headed for a sweep will be extended at least one more game.
Losing one playoff game on the road isn’t worth an overreaction, but it gets the side-eye when looking at what’s to come for Golden State past the first round. The Warriors were held to 90 points; Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson together usually average half that. A Golden State team that has skewed bigger this series, with JaVale McGee starting at center and Andre Iguodala playing “point guard,” also allowed the Spurs to shoot 53.6 percent from 3.
Perhaps Golden State should be relieved this wasn’t a sweep. The pregame clips of Steph Curry jogging and posting up in the corner are great content, but Steve Kerr tempered expectations on Sunday when he said that Curry was “not going to play anytime soon.” So while another loss wouldn’t be great for their healthy players, the longer the Warriors can delay a series against the Pelicans, the better for Curry’s return prospects.
For the second straight game, the Spurs were without Popovich, who is on leave after the death of his wife, Erin. In his place again on Sunday was assistant Ettore Messina, who has slowly picked up steam as a possible head coach outside of San Antonio as the playoffs have gone on. ESPN reported earlier in the day that Messina, a veteran of the overseas game who has been by Popovich’s side since 2014, was scheduled to meet with the Hornets later in the week about their coaching vacancy. Charlotte is also looking at Ime Udoka, another San Antonio assistant, per ESPN.
Getting a playoff win against the championship favorites is not a bad first impression.