Monday’s matchup between Golden State and San Antonio was one of the most highly anticipated games of the season. After all, these are the two best teams in the NBA, and many predicted a barnburner.
Instead, we got a lopsided rout. The Warriors embarrassed Gregg Popovich and the Spurs at ORACLE, leading by 15 points at halftime, by 33 points in the second half and ultimately winning 120-90.
How did the Warriors (41-4) dominate a team that entered the night 38-6?
“Stephen Curry,” Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Marc Spears said in a it’s-not-even-fair tone on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He sparked it. He seemed energized and excited about this contest. He had, what, five or six steals, he was hitting three-pointers, he was doing his globetrotter dribbling stuff – they just couldn’t guard him. He’s playing on a really special level right now. This is the first time where I’ve been holding out (to see) if he actually is the best player in the NBA. That certainly has always been reserved for LeBron James for a long time. But after what I saw today against the Spurs, I really can’t see anybody better in the NBA than Steph Curry.”
Curry was his usual otherworldly self, shooting 12-of-20 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from three-point range, to finish with a game-high 37 points. The circus shots and high-degree-of-difficulty shots were on full display.
The Spurs? They were helpless.
“When Kawhi Leonard tried to guard him, he couldn’t,” Spears said of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. “Now there was this moment before the game – just when you think you’ve seen everything from Steph, he does one other thing and you’re like, wow. You know the circle around half-court? He was like two feet in front of it shooting jumpers, and he made like four out of five like it was nothing. Just shooting. So when he shoots those deep jumpers, that’s just part of his repertoire. But that move against Kawhi – I think he felt disrespected with how the Spurs tried to guard him with the young guy 94 feet. And with his dribbling skills, I think it just kind of peeved him a little bit. There was that one play where he got the and-one and screamed. That was the reason behind it. He certainly was a superstar tonight.”
The Warriors have now beaten three of the best teams in the NBA – Cleveland, Chicago and San Antonio – by 30+ points in just over a week.
If the Warriors win the West – and based on Monday’s outcome, they will – they will likely face Cleveland (31-12), which fired David Blatt last Friday. The Cavs have lost five straight games to Golden State, including a 34-point debacle last Monday in Cleveland.
Spears was in no way surprised that the Cavs let Blatt go. In fact, the only surprise is that Blatt lasted as long as he did.
“I actually think they should have made a change from the beginning,” Spears said. “It was just a bad fit and unfortunate for him that he never even got the respect enough to get a chance. They never gave him a chance. I think he’ll get another chance somewhere else, but ultimately, I think LeBron James is going to have to be a better leader. It’s kind of sad that somebody could have a record that great and get fired. So I’m still kind of confused by it, but he never got a chance.
“If I was their owner, I probably would have let David Blatt go two weeks after hiring him, worked out some kind of buy-out,” Spears continued. “They obviously had no clue they were going to get LeBron, but when you get somebody of that nature, you better have somebody that they want and that they’ll fight for. It was a sad display for two years to see them not listen to the coach, to see them kind of ridicule the coach, to see LeBron sit in the coach’s seat the last game the entire fourth quarter and not get up. They just treated the guy kind of bad.
“So everybody is to blame, but I think Cleveland should have been smarter and not hired a coach until they knew LeBron was coming. You can’t question (James’) talent, but when you see a coach treated like that, it’s just disappointing from a superstar.”