Warriors Storm Back to Beat Spurs in Game 1

The Warriors fought all the way back from a 25-point deficit to stun the San Antonio Spurs 113-111 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday. Golden State was led by a two-headed monster, as Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant led all scorers with 40 and 34 points, respectively, and combined for 46 points in the decisive second half. Zaza Pachulia contributed 11 points and nine rebounds, while Draymond Green added nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Golden State did not possess a lead for much of the game on Sunday, but they did when it mattered most. The Warriors fell behind big early on, but left just enough time to flip the script and walk out of Oracle Arena with a Game 1 victory.

Kawhi Leonard and Pau Gasol combined for the first five points of the game, after which Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant accounted for four consecutive baskets to put the Warriors in front 8-5 just under four minutes into the contest. As fate would have it, that would prove to be Golden State’s largest advantage until the final minute of the game, as the Spurs soon jumped back into the lead and built a huge cushion over the course of the first half. Durant converted a jumper at the 4:26 mark of the first frame to pull the Dubs within 16-14, but Leonard’s dunk 45 seconds later ignited a 14-2 San Antonio run to close the quarter to take a 30-16 lead at the end of one.

Things would get considerably worse for the Warriors before they got better. Matt Barnes opened the second quarter scoring with a layup, but the Spurs would hold Golden State without a field goal for the next four minutes, over the course of which San Antonio built their lead to 44-19. Durant finally broke the seal with a jumper with 7:35 remaining in the opening half, and after two Leonard free throws, he and Curry combined for the next 11 points in the contest, cutting the deficit to 46-32 on Curry’s three-pointer at the 5:05 mark.

But just as it looked like the Warriors might close within single digits, the Spurs had other ideas. San Antonio responded with four-straight points, and rebuilt a 20-point lead going into halftime on Danny Green’s three-pointer with three seconds left. The Spurs could attribute their large lead to their dominance in the paint, where they outscored the Warriors 34-12 in the first half.

Curry knocked down a three-pointer on two separate occasions within the opening two minutes of the third quarter to pull the Warriors within 15, but in each case, the Spurs answered right back with a three-pointer of their own to quell the momentum. Another trey from Jonathan Simmons put San Antonio in front 75-52 at the 8:52 mark, and Leonard’s two free throws a minute later rebuilt their 23-point advantage once more. However, Leonard departed the game with an injury at that point, and Golden State took advantage of his absence. Zaza Pachulia’s jumper on the ensuing possession followed by Curry’s three-pointer 23 seconds later ignited an 18-0 Warriors run over the next three minutes to climb within 78-73 on Durant’s slam with 4:26 remaining in the third quarter.

LaMarcus Aldridge finally stopped the bleeding on the ensuing possession and San Antonio rebuilt a 90-81 lead heading into the fourth frame on Kyle Anderson’s buzzer-beater, but Golden State had gotten themselves back into the game.

Simmons opened the fourth quarter scoring with a jumper, but Ian Clark – who had yet to appear in the game – knocked down a three-pointer at the 10:59 mark, and San Antonio never led by double-digits again for the remainder of the contest. Slowly but surely, Golden State nibbled away at the deficit, and Durant’s three-pointer and driving dunk in a span of 32 seconds brought the Warriors within 94-90 with 7:20 left to play, the closest they had been since midway through the first quarter.

That sequence would begin a stretch in which Durant accounted for Golden State’s next 10 points to make it a single-possession game. He then handed the torch off to Shaun Livingston for two-straight baskets, which Durant followed with a score at the 4:09 mark to hand the Warriors a 101-100 lead. After Green scored to increase it to a three-point advantage, Aldridge responded with four-straight points as part of a 6-0 San Antonio burst that would put the Spurs back in front 106-103 with 2:12 left to play. That would prove to be their final lead of the contest though, as Curry tied things up with a three-pointer 25 seconds later, and Green put Golden State in front for good with a three-point play with 1:15 remaining.

Danny Green then goaltended Curry’s layup with 38 seconds left to give the Warriors their largest lead of the entire day at 111-106. San Antonio wouldn’t go away quietly, however. Manu Ginobli dunked coming out of a timeout, and Patty Mills’ two free throws following a steal made it a one-point game with 31 seconds to go. Curry then provided the final two of his 2017 postseason-high 40 points on a driving floater with nine seconds left to rebuild a three-point cushion. That proved to be the deciding basket in the game, as Mills split free throws in the final second and Golden State escaped with a thrilling 113-111 comeback victory.

The Warriors’ 20-point deficit at halftime was its largest halftime deficit overcome in a postseason game in franchise history. With the win, Golden State takes a 1-0 series lead heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday.

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