Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs had everything from drama to insanity to disaster. Once the dust settled, the question some were bandying about was whether the Warriors could bounce back after letting such a huge chance slip through their fingers.
But let’s hold off on the sky-is-falling rhetoric for just a second.
Yes, the Warriors blew a golden, I repeat GOLDEN, opportunity to take Game 1 and momentum in the series. There is no way to sugarcoat it. An NBA team should never allow an opponent to finish a game on an 18-2 run. An NBA team should never allow a player like Manu Ginobili to get that open on an inbound play in double overtime with the game on the line. It went from bad to worse to incomprehensible.
But it happened, and now the Warriors are left to pick up the pieces in Game 2 today.
This is nothing new for the Warriors, who have channeled their inner Armando Benetiz when it comes to closing out games this postseason. It’s a high-wire act every time out. Turnovers, defensive lapses and bad decisions have been bountiful in the fourth quarter of games.
In their series against the Denver Nuggets, the Warriors lost another nip-and-tuck Game 1. They also lost their All-Star, David Lee, in that game. Combine those factors with the fact that it was the first postseason experience for most of the Warriors’ roster, and I’d argue that it was a more damaging loss than Monday’s against the Spurs.
Asking a young team to rebound against a team that had only lost three times all year at home, without one of their best players, was seemingly impossible at the time.
Golden State responded then and certainly is capable of doing so here.
That said, the Spurs are a different animal than the Nuggets. They are stocked with savvy veterans and a sage coach in Gregg Popovich. The Warriors have a 30-game losing streak in San Antonio for a reason.
But it’s too soon to count the Warriors out. Game 1 was a big blow, but the Warriors are just young and brash enough to let that loss roll off their shoulders and come out guns blazing in Game 2 tonight. Coach Mark Jackson has proven to be a master motivator, and as the series shifts back to raucous Oracle Arena, it will give the Warriors a huge boost.
Let’s not forget, this is still the same team that jumped out to that 16-point lead Monday and essentially controlled the game up until that point.
The Warriors also have that “Human Torch” guy, Stephen Curry, who aside from maybe LeBron James has been the most explosive player in the playoffs. He is capable of single-handily winning a game at any time.
Time for the Warriors to be concerned? Certainly. Time to panic? Not quite yet.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dylan_kruse.