Spurs win Round 2, beat Warriors to stay perfect at home: 5 things to know

SAN ANTONIO -- The NBA's version of March Madness played out on Saturday night in San Antonio as the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors , the two best teams in the league, faced off for just the second time this season. In the first meeting on Jan. 25, the Spurs, playing without Tim Duncan , got punked by the Warriors, losing by 30 points. Saturday’s game was vastly different though.

Slowing down the pace and playing lockdown defense, San Antonio kept its perfect home record alive (35-0) by defeating Golden State 87-79. This was just Golden State’s seventh loss of the season and makes a dent in its quest for 73 wins. According to projections from SportsLine, the Warriors now have a 64.9 percent chance of winning at least 73 games.

Although Duncan was healthy and available to play, he came off the bench and played just eight minutes in the first half as the Spurs opted for a smaller lineup to match up with Golden State’s own small-ball units. Duncan didn’t play a single second in the second half but quite surprisingly the Spurs didn’t truly need him. In his place, LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up, being aggressive all game to finish with a double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds. The Spurs also got big games out of Kawhi Leonard (18 points and 14 rebounds) and Boris Diaw (14 points and eight rebounds).

For Golden State, tired legs from playing on Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks and missing Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala proved to be a big factor in its loss. Stephen Curry made just one 3-pointer on 12 attempts, finishing with 14 points. Klay Thompson also couldn’t get in a rhythm, shooting 7 of 20 from the field and 1-for-7 from three to finish with 15 points.

Despite their poor shooting (37.8 percent as a team and an uncharacteristic 25 percent from three), this was still a game the Warriors could’ve won. They went into the fourth tied up and until Saturday, were 54-0 this season when leading or tied entering the final quarter. But San Antonio’s suffocating defense and timely shots from Danny Green and Aldridge put Golden State away for good in the final minutes.

Here are five things to know about San Antonio’s 87-79 win over Golden State:

1. The "benching" of Tim Duncan - For the first time since 2010, Tim Duncan did not start for the Spurs. With Andrew Bogut injured, the Warriors started a small lineup with Draymond Green at center and Harrison Barnes at power forward. Matching Golden State, San Antonio opted to have Duncan come off the bench, starting Boris Diaw in his place.

This worked out quite well for San Antonio in the opening minutes of the first as Diaw scored six of San Antonio’s first eight points. Diaw finished the quarter with six points, two rebounds and an assist. He ended the game with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists.

Duncan entered the game after eight minutes had elapsed in the first, to match up size-wise once the Warriors subbed in Marreese Speights . But he was surprisingly ineffective (one point, two rebounds and two turnovers in eight minutes) and did not return in the second half. San Antonio usually relies on Duncan defensively but thanks to Diaw and LaMarcus Aldridge and strong perimeter defense, the 39-year-old Spurs forward became more of a coach on the bench, advising players when needed and becoming his teammates’ biggest cheerleader.

That’s just how things are with the Spurs though. They are that deep and talented to get past the Warriors even without one of the best players playing significant minutes.

2. Hurry Burry Spoils The Curry - Golden State has the number one offense in the league, averaging 113.1 points per 100 possessions yet with 4:22 left in the first quarter, the Warriors had only scored 11 points. At the end of the first they scored just 18 and ended the half with 37 points, their lowest scoring first half of the season.

This was mainly due to San Antonio's stellar defense and their ability to slow down the game.

San Antonio’s defense is number one in the league, allowing 95.7 points per 100 possessions. With a lockdown defender in Kawhi Leonard and an excellent defender in Danny Green, San Antonio just hounded Stephen Curry, preventing him from hitting any 3-pointers and scoring just seven points in the first half. Part of this may have been tired legs as the Warriors played on Friday against the Mavs, making Saturday, the second night of a back to back. But Green and Leonard were definitely the main factors. Green was even able to block a Curry 3-point attempt in the first half, a feat that no other player has done this season. Curry got blocked again by Green in the third, as the Spurs guard basically hurdled over Tony Parker to reject the reigning MVP at the rim.

San Antonio also made it a point to allow everyone but Curry to score. Doubling up on screens and sticking to him like glue at all times. The Spurs closed out on and contested on the majority of Golden State’s 3-point attempts, forcing the Warriors into several rushed 3s.

This allowed Golden State to have more than several wide-open looks at the rim and a couple of big dunks. But dunks are worth two points not the 3 that Curry and the Warriors are accustomed to hitting on most trips down the court.

Then on offense, the Spurs did everything they could to slow down the game. Tony Parker and the Spurs guards walked the ball up the court. San Antonio would use as much of the shot clock as they could. Coupled with San Antonio’s stellar defense, this prevented Golden State from getting into their customary fast-paced rhythm, throwing the Warriors off the game and allowing the Spurs to get the victory.

3. Redemption Song - In San Antonio’s first matchup against the Warriors, a game the Spurs got absolutely dominated in, LaMarcus Aldridge had one of the worst games of his career. Scoring five points on 2-for-9 shooting, Aldridge had his lowest-scoring game in nearly two years. Frustrated by Draymond Green’s physical defense, Aldridge just didn’t look like himself. He returned to form on Saturday.

Aggressively attacking the boards, Aldridge recorded a double-double by the third quarter and finished the game with 26 points and 13 rebounds. The Spurs looked for Aldridge inside and on the low post seemingly at every possession and he delivered, including hit some big shots in the fourth.

4. No splashing in the AT&T Center - After knocking down 22 3s against the Mavs, the Warriors went ice cold against the Spurs. The high-scoring duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, combined to shoot 11 of 38 and 2 for 19 from 3. Curry finished the game with 14 points (FG: 4-18, 3PT: 1-12) and Thompson scored 15 points (FG: 7-20, 3PT: 1-7).

It wasn’t just the Splash Brothers. As a team the Warriors shot 37.8 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3. Golden State made nine 3s, which is highly uncharacteristic.

This was of course just one game and Golden State won’t likely shoot so poorly the next time the two teams meet. But on Saturday, it proved to be one of the main differences.

5. Offensive rebounding - The Spurs dominated on the glass, out rebounding the Warriors 53-37. Leonard led the Spurs with 14 boards and Aldridge grabbed 13 rebounds.

San Antonio was also especially active on the offensive boards, grabbing 14 and tipping out several balls. While most teams tend to head back on defense, San Antonio seemed to make a point to get offensive rebounds and outscored Golden State 24-12 on second-chance points.

Even though they won, this was still a feeling-out type of game for the Spurs. And San Antonio's zeal for offensive rebounds is definitely something to watch the next time these two teams meet.

Boris Diaw and the Spurs were too much for the Warriors to handle on Saturday.
Boris Diaw and the Spurs were too much for the Warriors to handle on Saturday. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Ananth Pandian has been writing about all NBA-related things including the social and lifestyle aspect of the sport for CBS Sports since 2015. His name is actually easy to pronounce, just remember it is... Full Bio

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