Basketball

Desperate Spurs vow aggressive fightback against Warriors

Saturday, May 20, 2017

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SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Despite forward Kawhi Leonard being uncertain with a sprained left ankle and two disheartening NBA play-off losses at Golden State, the San Antonio Spurs team vowed on Thursday to fight back aggressively.“You've got to be the aggressor. You've got to be sharp for 48 minutes and you've got to take it to them,” Spurs centre Pau Gasol said. “You've got to be the most physical team, the team that wants it the most, and play with that edge and that feeling the entire game.”

The Spurs are reeling after squandering a 25-point lead to lose the best-of-seven Western Conference final opener 113-111 — top scorer Leonard going out in the process — and then being routed 136-100 by the Warriors in game two Tuesday.

Golden State won 67 games this season, the only team to do better than San Antonio's 61, and the Warriors were the NBA's top-scoring club. They are 10-0 in the play-offs this year and could match the best start in NBA play-off history with a victory in game three tonight at San Antonio.

The Spurs were the NBA's top defensive squad, powered by two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Leonard, who also averaged a career-high 25.5 points.

While the scene shifts from California to Texas, the Spurs realise that another loss likely spells doom for their title dreams.

“In a way, it's a game that you should be the most energised and ready to play, focused and with that edge, because you're in a desperate position,” Gasol said.

“You're a wounded animal and you should come out with everything you've got. It's the easier game to prepare for if you're down. It's a difficult position to be in because if you lose then you know you're pretty much out.”

Spurs playmaker LaMarcus Aldridge was prodded by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to score more, although he has faced two and three defenders at times with Leonard and star guard Tony Parker both out injured.

“They have never really doubled like that and triple-teamed at times. It was definitely something different that I've seen,” Aldridge said. “But I have to play through it, take my shot, or try to find an open guy.

“I think last game it definitely worked to their advantage with me getting passive. Our next game, I won't do that. I'm going to play through it and I'm going to be all right.”

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