Warriors thump Spurs to clinch top playoff seed

Against San Antonio’s best lineup, Golden State proved they are the premier team in the West.

The Warriors defended their home court against the Spurs Thursday night, clinching the Western Conference’s top playoff seed and keeping alive their shot at 73 wins.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Oracle Arena.

The Dubs won 112-101, displaying incredible ball movement while sticking with fundamental play and sudden defense. Stephen Curry said:

“Tonight was a good night for a lot of different reasons. To play better, one, have more energy, more focus on the details that we need going forward against a great team that’s obviously poised and capable of doing things in the playoffs. To win tonight and clinch home court through the playoffs was a goal of ours.”

It was so tough, the Spurs didn’t eclipse 50 points until halfway through the third quarter. Not that San Antonio is known as an offensive juggernaut, but it’s a sign that the Warriors are getting into playoff mode.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said:

“Our guys wanted to play well after the last game, and losing two out of the last three here in this building. So it’s a good win for us, and the main thing is that we achieved our goal that we set at the beginning of the season, a one seed in the west. And it took 70 wins to wrap up a one seed, which tells you all you need to know about that team in the other locker room.”

Golden State held a 23-point lead for a time during the third quarter, which was punctuated by a monster dunk courtesy of Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing nearly a month with left ankle sprain, and played 18 minutes, finishing with two steals, two rebounds and four points.

Harrison Barnes scored 21 points with eight boards, Curry with 27 points, nine assists and five rebounds, while Draymond Green scored 18 points with seven assists and eight rebounds.

Barnes, in particular, has been on a nice run. He’s averaged six rebounds and just under 15 points over the last four games, and passing the eye-test with flying colors.

Said Kerr:

“Harrison has been great the last few weeks. I could see it coming before the shooting arrived because he was really competing defensively and he just looked a little bouncier. And obviously over the last couple weeks the shooting has arrived as well. You get that extra floor space, or we get another guy who can score inside, get offensive rebounds, that kind of thing. He’s been great, and it’s good timing with the playoffs coming up.”

Barnes added:

“I think looking back from last year to this year mentally, I’m just light years ahead of where I was. I feel much more comfortable, just in my role on the team. And coach has talked to me about it, just doing the things that you can judge every game. Whether it’s defense, rebounding, setting screens, hitting the flow of the game that way. Some nights your shots will fall, some nights they won’t. Sometimes you’ll get 15 shots, sometimes you won’t.”

As the game turned into a blowout in the third quarter, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich showed his hand to an extent as it relates to the postseason.

Most telling is that Popovich subbed out Tim Duncan when the Warriors went small, something that didn’t happen when the Warriors lost to the Spurs last month.

Popovich made a point to use his bigs in the low post against Green when the smaller lineup was in March 19, and it worked well. The Warriors lost 87-79, the exact differential during the fourth quarter Thursday.

It was the ultimate difference then: Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard and Duncan grabbed rebounds on both ends of the court and posted up whenever possible.

That didn’t happen Thursday night.

The Warriors, in fact, out-rebounded San Antonio 25-to-15 during the first half, and 43-32 for the night.

The Spurs revived themselves from what looked like certain death late in the game, though, with offense coming from Leonard and David West, among others.

The resurgence was short-lived, though, as Golden State’s stalled offense picked up the pace once more and helped the Warriors roll over the traveling Spurs.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.