With Stephen Curry hobbled by an injured ankle that nearly kept him out of the game altogether, it was the team’s balance that gave Golden State a pivotal Game 4 victory. It was Jarrett Jack’s turn to lead the charge, with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field in the Warriors’ 97-87 overtime win over the Spurs on Sunday afternoon.
San Antonio will be haunted by its 14-for-25 day from the foul line, especially when both teams shot uncharacteristically poorly from the field. The two highest scoring clubs per game in the postseason shot 38 and 35.5 percent from the field on Sunday, but the difference was Jack’s turnaround effort and the three Warriors who scored at least 22 points in the contest, which included Curry.
Unlike New York’s J.R. Smith, who beat out Jack for the regular season Sixth Man award, Jack has responded with three strong games, shooting 18-for-35 since going a combined 7-for-25 in Game 6 against Denver and Game 1 against the Spurs. Take a look at Jack’s splits this series in wins and losses:
|Jarrett Jack||FG %||Points||Rebounds||Assists|
Golden State tends to win when Jack isn’t a volume shooter, but a more precise player who picks his spots and yields to teammates with better looks (which explains his higher assist totals in wins).
The Warriors also played tremendous defense to close out Game 4, something that should not be discounted against a Spurs team that has a lot of postseason experience, to say the least. ESPN Stats & Info points out that San Antonio shot 16 percent from the field in the final 9:40 of the game (including the extra session).
“We put ourselves in a position to win the game and it’s frustrating because we feel like we gave it away,” Tim Duncan said. But Golden State’s balance, which has included the emergence of several key supporting players, including Harrison Barnes. It’s helped the team win two games in the second round, advancing this far in the playoffs for the first time since 1977.
There were those who thought that Barnes wouldn’t amount to much at the NBA level (this writer included), but he’s really taken his game up a level in the postseason. He notched a career high 26 points on 26 shots on Sunday (not as bad considering how poorly each team shot) to go with 10 rebounds, which is amazing considering he didn’t even average double figures in scoring per game during the regular season.
|Barnes||Minutes||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Rebounds||FTA|
Barnes’ role has increased incrementally since the end of the regular season, a reflection of his improved comfort level and Mark Jackson’s trust in the rookie. He’s taken on more of the scoring load, and his rebounding numbers have really helped the team as well.
“He’s a player that you may see him playing one leg, one arm, and you got to guard him,” Spurs G Manu Ginobili said. “So you got to respect him. He can really go off at any time.”
But teams can no longer just swarm Curry, something Denver tried in the first round, and not have to worry about any huge offensive threat. Jack, Barnes and Klay Thompson are all capable of having standout performances, and Andrew Bogut has been a huge force in the interior in the postseason. He’s averaged 15.4 rebounds over his last five games, including 18 caroms in Game 4.
The evolution of this Golden State Warrior team is not just the vast improvement in Curry’s game. It’s that the team has several offensive threats that provides balance and ensures that the team won’t have too many flat nights on the court. And that will ensure that Bay Area basketball will be exciting and relevant for years to come.
Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.