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Popovich says Spurs 'looked like a deer in headlights' in loss to Warriors

Gregg Popovich was far from impressed with the San Antonio’s 113-92 playoff loss to Golden State on Saturday.

“WE LOOKED LIKE a deer in the headlights”.

Spurs Warriors Basketball Source: PA

That is how San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich described his team’s loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoff series.

The Spurs were no match for Western Conference rivals and reigning champions the Warriors, who claimed a comprehensive 113-92 victory on Saturday.

Reflecting on San Antonio’s defeat, Popovich said: “We looked like deer in the headlights.

“I thought we were prepared mentally and physically, but I was mistaken.”

The Warriors used an unorthodox starting line-up that included centre JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala at point guard, in addition to usual starters Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

With Iguodala and McGee — who had only 24 combined starts this season — on the floor, the Warriors shut down the Spurs’ inside game. San Antonio scored just 22 points in the paint after averaging 43.8 for the campaign.

The Spurs shot only 40% from the field, and were outrebounded 51-30. Golden State held Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (23.1 points per game this season) to only 14 points, with two rebounds.

“It’s not about them, it’s about us,” Aldridge said. “We’ve got to be better. I thought we didn’t play as ourselves.”

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr gave much of the credit to his team’s defence after their best defensive performance since they gave up 92 to the Indiana Pacers on 27 March.

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Kerr told reporters after the game the move to start 34-year-old guard Iguodala for the first time since 19 March was based completely on defence.

“Just wanted to put our best defensive line-up on the floor from the beginning,” he said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “I think the whole point of these games here early on in this series is to re-establish our defence.

“I think you guys know over the last month or so our defence has been sub-par, so you can’t win in this league in the playoffs unless you defend and we defended tonight.”

The move surprised the Spurs as well, though veteran Manu Ginobili would not say it affected their game plan.

“We were expecting Cook to start,” he told reporters. ”But it’s not like it changed that much. The bottom line is that they played much better than us.”

With the insertion of Iguodala into the starting line-up along with JaVale McGee, the Warriors were longer and more athletic which made it very tough for the Spurs to get into the paint.

San Antonio scored just 22 points in the paint after they averaged 43.8 for the season. McGee had a lot to do with that.

“JaVale was great,” Kerr said. “He’s got, obviously, a lot of length, shot-blocking ability, mobility, I like his speed, so he was great, and there’s no reason to take him out.”

The Warriors host the Spurs in Game 2 on Monday.

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