The San Antonio Spurs held an eight-point lead at halftime of Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors and appeared poised to move on with a 3-1 series lead.
That is, until the Warriors erased the deficit and came away with a 97-87 overtime win, bringing this Western Conference semifinal to a 2-2 split.
Golden State won the game despite Stephen Curry being hobbled from a turned ankle in Game 3. Jarrett Jack was the big performer, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including eight late in the fourth to help tie things up and get another five minutes of life for his team.
The Warriors also got a surprising performance from Harrison Barnes, grinding his way to 26 points (9-of-26 shooting) and 10 rebounds in one of his most aggressive performances of the season.
Game 5 moves back to San Antonio. The Spurs hold home-court advantage with two of the next three games of this series in the Lone Star State. They will need to limit Golden State's big runs if they want to get the win, but there's plenty else to address before then.
Time: Tuesday, May 14, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio
Series Record: Tied 2-2
Projected Starting Lineups
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker (PG), Danny Green (SG), Kawhi Leonard (SF), Tim Duncan (PF), Tiago Splitter (C)
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry (PG), Klay Thompson (SG), Harrison Barnes (SF), Carl Landry (PF), Andrew Bogut (C)
Key Storyline: Stephen Curry's Health
Jack may have hit the biggest shots for the Warriors in Game 4, but Curry's contribution in the second half was the biggest story.
After turning his ankle in Game 3, Curry's production was the biggest question for the Warriors, and he started off slow. He did make two three-pointers early, but he took just one more shot in the first half. He didn't seem to be visibly ailing, but he also wasn't his normal, aggressive self.
But then, Curry netted 16 of his 22 points in the second half and in overtime to help Golden State erase its halftime deficit and eventually emerge victorious.
After the game, Curry told reporters that he wasn't at full strength and probably wouldn't be for a while (via ESPN).
I don't think I ever really hit my top speed. Whatever I could give [Jackson] and not get hurt again.
I doubt it will be 100 percent for the foreseeable future. Knowing that I can be on the court as a threat, I've got to be ready.
What that means for Game 5 is uncertain, but he still made an impact in Game 4 in Oakland, so he should be able to come out and do the same in San Antonio.
The Spurs Will Win If...
They keep defending, but also make some shots.
San Antonio held Golden State to just 7-of-18 from the three-point line in Game 4. The Spurs also forced seven more turnovers than the Warriors did, held them to 38 percent shooting and allowed just 36 points in the paint.
Defensively, they did everything necessary to win the game.
The only problem for the Spurs was that they themselves shot 35.5 percent from the floor, were 7-of-27 from the three-point line and grabbed just 51 rebounds to Golden State's 65. The Warriors' perimeter defenders stymied San Antonio's cutters, and Andrew Bogut absolutely gobbled up opponents when they came into the paint.
It's clear defense alone wasn't enough to get the win, as Jack went on a roll and sent the game into overtime.
The Spurs will need to knock down jumpers and convert in the paint in Game 5. Otherwise, they're going to have a hard time containing the Warriors' offense for a full 48 minutes.
The Warriors Will Win If...
Andrew Bogut puts a fence around the paint.
Just 16 of San Antonio's points in the paint in Game 4 came with Bogut on the floor, as his presence altered the interior attack of guards and bigs alike in his 28 minutes on the floor.
Not only that, but when Bogut left the game with foul trouble in the first quarter, the score was an 11-11 tie. When he came back on to start the second half, the Warriors were down by eight points.
There's a reason Tim Duncan is shooting just 41 percent in this series. If Bogut can control the paint in Game 5, the Warriors have a good chance of going back to Oakland with a 3-2 lead in the series.
Just twice this year have the Spurs lost consecutive games when they played their optimal lineup in for both contests. Gregg Popovich tends to sit guys without hesitation during the regular season.
This not only points to the resiliency in San Antonio's lineup, but also to the fact that Coach Pop is one of the best in the history of the NBA at making game-to-game adjustments.
Of course, I should also point out that the Spurs haven't gone an entire postseason without losing consecutive games since winning the NBA championship back in 2007.
With that in mind, Golden State will have to win two in a row in order to take out the Spurs. If they don't win back-to-back games now, they're going to have to win the final two in order to advance.
At this point, we have two opposing forces: Popovich's game-to-game adjustments and Golden State's explosive offense, which was stifled for most of Game 4.
In a home game for the Spurs, I'm going to place faith in Pop as the difference-maker.
San Antonio Spurs 104, Golden State Warriors 95
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