Klay Thompson soars past Davis Bertans for the one-handed jam
Head coach Steve Kerr reached 250 coaching wins on Saturday night as his Golden State Warriors handily dispatched the hobbled San Antonio Spurs 122-105. Kerr passed his former head coach and NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson as the quickest ever to reach 250 career coaching victories.
It’s funny how great coaches can leave such lasting impressions on their pupils. Though Kerr isn’t technically part of Gregg Popovich’s coaching lineage, with an emphasis on team basketball, ball movement and lockdown defense, it’s easy to see the influences of Popovich on Kerr’s coaching style.
The two basketball masterminds still keep close to this day and whenever they get the opportunity to go head to head from across the sidelines, it’s always a fascinating battle of X’s and O’s. Both coaches are painstakingly detail oriented and if you provide less than your best, you’ll quickly find your behind riding the bench regardless of your star status.
Luckily for Golden State, their stars showed up and balled out.
Klay Thompson led the charge for Golden State with 25 points on a stunningly efficient 10-14 shooting from the field. Meanwhile teammate and better half of the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry, scored 17 points and added eight assists.
The Dubs struggled to get their feet off the ground against the Spurs stingy first quarter defense, but once they started rolling they never stopped. Golden State swiftly swept the lead out from under San Antonio’s feet in the second frame and ran away with the game.
The score said the Warriors only won by 17 points. However, if you were watching the game it felt like the deficit was much greater. While the Spurs held on for dear life at the outset of the third quarter, by the middle of the second half, the game was clearly all but over.
San Antonio has been set back a few notches due to injuries to several of their key player this season and Gregg Popovich has worked his coaching wizardry to save the franchise from an absolute tank in what most teams would call a lost season.
Although the Two-time Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP has not ruled out a return this season, the picture surrounding Kawhi Leonard’s quad injury is as frustrating as it is confusing. For reference, Tony Parker tore the same muscle Leonard strained and he not only made his season debut earlier, but has played 21 more games for the Spurs than the their two-time All-Star.
Despite the many obstacles thrown his way, Popovich has made the most of his broken roster and consistently held onto the third seed in the incredibly deep and competitive Western Conference. It hasn’t been an easy task, but behind a resurgent LaMarcus Aldridge it looks as though the Spurs will be able survive the absence of Leonard until at least the second round of the NBA playoffs.
By almost every measure, LA’s first two seasons in San Antonio were disappointingly underwhelming. His regular season statistics dropped off the side of a cliff and when the postseason reared its head, Aldridge failed to rise to the challenge.
After his pitiful performance in the 2017 Western Conference Finals, fans wanted Aldridge out of town and the disgruntled forward visited Spurs management in search of a trade. Somehow out of the fire, emerged a reborn LaMarcus A.
In his third season, the big man has increased not only increased his scoring by 5.1 points in just 1.5 more minutes of action, he’s reasserted himself as the rangy post presence Portland supporters came to know and love in his nine seasons as a Blazer. As a result of his inspired play, opposing coaches and fellow peers rewarded the San Antonio big man with his sixth All-Star appearance.
No matter how well he continues to play, Aldridge won’t be enough on his own to carry the Spurs to another Western Conference Finals berth. Having said that, should Leonard return to full health before the postseason to lend the power forward a helping hand, the Spurs have a real shot to challenge to Warriors to represent the west in the NBA Finals.