It was set up to be one of the great battles for the 2015-16 regular season. The two best teams in the NBA and a potential preview of the Western Conference Finals. The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs went head-to-head with millions watching from all over the world.
On Australia Day, many Australians would have given up an afternoon at the beach so they could be in front of the television for round one of Andrew Bogut (Warriors) versus Patty Mills (Spurs).
Bogut was caught in early foul trouble during the second quarter, picking up his third personal. It didn’t seem to impact the Warriors at all, with contributions coming from Shaun Livingston who scored 11 points in 13 minutes, a display that highlighted the depth of the Warriors bench.
Mills was assigned the near impossible task of guarding Stephen Curry in patches, rotating with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. Initially, the pressure Mills applied to Curry was respectful, but the powerful screening of Bogut and Draymond Green provided Curry with the space to break free and find his rhythm.
However, Curry wasn’t the only concern for the Spurs. With a flurry of penetrating guards and talent around the perimeter, the Warriors controlled the tempo of the game and knew when to put the foot to the floor.
Bogut picked up his fourth personal foul on Manu Ginobili late in the third quarter. At that stage the Warriors were leading 82-60. Bogut took his place on the bench and the Warriors continued to dominate. The Warriors are such a well-coached, well-drilled team because as soon as one soldier goes out, another comes in to replace him.
The Spurs allow 89 points per game on average. The Warriors had 89 points in the third quarter with 2:54 remaining. They outscored the Spurs 33-19 in the third. No doubt a worrying stat heading back to San Antonio.
Midway through the final quarter the Warriors had benched all of their starters – Steph Curry did not make an appearance in the fourth quarter. The Warriors went on to win, 120-90.
Andrew Bogut finished the game with four points, three rebounds and one block in only 17 minutes of play. Patty Mills wasn't any better as he had three points on 1-of-5 shooting and two assists in 16 minutes of play.
The camera often flashed over Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who will need to go back to the drawing board in order to beat the red hot Warriors, as they face each other another three times in the regular season. Tim Duncan will be back which will help defensively.
Mentally, the Spurs will need to learn from this aberration and gain some confidence moving forward to challenge the Warriors for the number one seed in the West.
Patty Mills and the Spurs face the Houston Rockets Wednesday night, while Andrew Bogut and the Warriors face the Dallas Mavericks. Both broadcasted on ESPN back in Australia.