Another loss likely to end San An­to­nio’s ti­tle dream

New Straits Times - - Sport -

DE­SPITE for­ward Kawhi Leonard be­ing un­cer­tain with a sprained left an­kle and two dis­heart­en­ing NBA play­off losses at Golden State, the San An­to­nio Spurs vowed on Thurs­day to fight back ag­gres­sively.

“You’ve got to be the ag­gres­sor. You’ve got to be sharp for 48 min­utes and you’ve got to take it to them,” Spurs cen­tre Pau Ga­sol said. “You’ve got to be the most phys­i­cal team, the team that want it the most and play with that edge and that feel­ing the en­tire game.”

The Spurs are reel­ing after squan­der­ing a 25-point lead to lose the best-of-seven Western Con­fer­ence fi­nal opener 113-111, top scorer Leonard go­ing out in the process, and then be­ing routed 136-100 by the War­riors in game two on Tues­day.

Golden State won 67 games this sea­son, the only team to do bet­ter than San An­to­nio’s 61, and the War­riors were the NBA’s top­scor­ing club. They are 10-0 in the play­offs this year and could match the best start in NBA play­off his­tory with a vic­tory in game three to­day at San An­to­nio.

The Spurs were the NBA’s top de­fen­sive squad, pow­ered by two-time NBA De­fen­sive Player of the Year Leonard, who also av­er­aged a ca­reer-high 25.5 points.

While the scene shifts from California to Texas, the Spurs re­alise that another loss likely spells doom for their ti­tle dreams.

“In a way it’s a game that you should be the most en­er­gised and ready to play, fo­cused and with that edge, be­cause you’re in a des­per­ate po­si­tion,” Ga­sol said.

“You’re a wounded an­i­mal and you should come out with ev­ery­thing you’ve got.

Spurs play­maker LaMar­cus Aldridge was prod­ded by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to score more, al­though he has faced two and three de­fend­ers at times with Leonard and star guard Tony Parker both out in­jured.

Ga­sol called for at­tack­ing the War­riors from the start and not let­ting up.

“We’re down 2-0 and this game is crit­i­cal for us. We all are very aware of that. So our life de­pends on it. I mean, our bas­ket­ball life, not, you know.” AFP

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