|Spurs must play through emotions vs. Warriors|
Something has got to change, and in a hurry, if the San Antonio Spurs are going to get back into their Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.
The Spurs will get that chance when they host the Warriors in Game 3 on Thursday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
San Antonio will do it with a heavy heart. On Wednesday night, the Spurs announced that Erin Popovich, the wife of San Antonio coach Greg Popovich, died early Wednesday. She was 67 and had been battling an illness for an extended period.
The couple had been married for four decades and had two children, Jill and Mickey, and two grandchildren.
"We mourn the loss of Erin," said Spurs general manager R.C. Buford in a statement released late Wednesday. "She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us."
The organization asked media and fans to respect the family's privacy during the difficult time.
It is not known whether Popovich would be with the team on Thursday for Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round series. He did conduct practice on Wednesday.
"The whole NBA family is supporting him, got his back through it all. Feel so bad for Pop," Warriors star forward Kevin Durant told reporters Wednesday night.
Assistant coach Ettore Messina would likely step into the head coaching role for the Spurs if Popovich were to miss Game 3.
Golden State, the defending NBA champs but just the second-seeded team from the West after an uneven and injury-plagued regular season, did what it was expected to do in the first two games of this series -- the Warriors held their home court in decisive fashion, winning 113-92 last Saturday and 116-101 in Monday in Oakland.
Now it's up to the Spurs, who had the third best home record in the NBA during the regular season, winning 33 of the 41 games in their building while earning their 21st straight appearance in the postseason.
The two teams are without star players -- Golden State guard Stephen Curry is out while rehabbing a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, and San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard is still in recovery mode from a left quad injury that's kept him out for all but nine games this season.
Both squads still have plenty of star power, but through the first two games, the Warriors have just played better, especially on the defensive end.
Game 2 came down to the fact that Golden State made more shots than the Spurs, with Durant scoring a team-leading 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting, and Klay Thompson adding 31 points on a 12-of-20 clip.
"You chase Klay all over the place, and you give him half an inch, he gets it off," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said about Thompson. "Same with Kevin. They are good. When they can do things like that, everything is harder."
The Spurs countered with 34 points and 12 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge despite Golden State's defense that surrounded him and tried to force the ball out of his hands. Patty Mills added 21 points for San Antonio, and Rudy Gay -- earning his first playoff start since 2012 -- added 12 points.
Durant missed his first five 3-point attempts but steadied himself and the team by scoring 13 points while going 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc in the second half.
"We were just patient throughout the game," Durant said. "We knew they were going to be physical. We weren't going to get the same looks that we were getting for Game. 1 So we just tried to just keep the movement up. When we get the rocks, just try to be as forceful as we can with it and exploit the matchups."
Golden State took a solid punch from the Spurs in Game 2 and still won, handily in fact. The Warriors know that winning in the Alamo City will be no easy task.
"We knew what was coming," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "This is the NBA. Those guys are talented. They're great players. This is what you expect. But I'm proud of our guys for staying with it."
Including the regular season and playoffs, the Warriors have won 10 of the last 11 meetings against San Antonio.