Warriors overcome 25-point deficit to take Game 1 from Spurs

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May 14, 2017 - 6:45pm
Warriors overcome 25-point deficit to take Game 1 from Spurs Moments after the final buzzer sounded Sunday afternoon, as yellow confetti fell from the rafters and Spurs players trudged to the locker room, Kevin Durant embraced Draymond Green in front of the Warriors’ bench. The turning point came when, with the Spurs up 78-55 midway through the third quarter, Kawhi Leonard headed to the locker room with an apparent ankle injury. Without the two-time All Star to vex the Warriors on both sides of the ball, San Antonio surrendered an 18-0 run as it weathered a scoreless drought of nearly four minutes. Back to the movement-heavy blueprint that paved it sweeps in each of the the first two rounds, Golden State took its first lead of the game on a Durant layup with less than four minutes left. Only once in their series sweep of the Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals did the Warriors trail. [...] to cement his legacy as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Popovich has relied on nuanced, tactical adjustments to exploit opponents’ weaknesses — not only faith. Three days after cruising to a 114-75 rout of Houston in Game 6 without Leonard, San Antonio welcomed its MVP candidate back to the starting lineup. Late in the first quarter, after Curry tossed a loose ball behind his back and fell out of bounds, Leonard took one giant stride into the key and launched for a one-handed dunk. [...] even a team as deep as the Spurs isn’t immune from the emotional toll exacted by the departure of its best player. With 7:54 left in the third quarter, while drawing contact and missing a corner jumper, Leonard landed awkwardly on the left ankle he sprained in Game 5 against the Rockets. The two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year stayed in the game, made both free throws and limped to the locker room with the team trainer.

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