What a comeback, what a collapse.
The Golden State Warriors had a win probability of 3 percent when San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard sprained his ankle Sunday with 7:53 remaining in the third quarter of Game 1 of the West finals. But the Warriors staged an epic rally against a short-handed Spurs team.
From the Warriors’ perspective
Once Leonard left the game, Warriors star Kevin Durant went to work. He went 7-of-10 from the field and scored 20 points in the last 19:53. Durant had 14 points prior to that. Add that to Stephen Curry's 15, and the pair had 35 of the Warriors' final 58 points.
The Warriors outscored the Spurs 20-2 in fast-break points after Leonard’s injury. The Spurs didn’t transition well off Warriors turnovers, turning seven of them into only four points. The Warriors turned the Spurs’ nine turnovers into 17 points.
The game also turned on the glass. When Leonard got hurt, the Spurs were outrebounding the Warriors 24-19. The Warriors had a 24-13 rebounding edge the rest of the way. They had nine offensive rebounds to the Spurs’ seven defensive rebounds.
From the Spurs’ perspective
The Spurs couldn’t find anyone who could score consistently in Leonard’s absence; Manu Ginobili was 4-of-6 from the field, but the rest of the team was 9-of-29. LaMarcus Aldridge went 3-of-11 from the field for eight points after Leonard left. Aldridge had five of his six turnovers in the final 19:53.
When the Spurs made baskets, they counted for only two points. They went 7-of-15 from 3-point range in building that big lead, but went 0-of-7 in Leonard’s absence.
On the defensive end, the impact of the injury could be measured thusly: When Leonard was on the floor, the Warriors shot just 38 percent. When he was off the floor, the Warriors shot 59 percent (58 percent after Leonard got hurt).
What does it mean?
Teams that win Game 1 of a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 76 percent of the time. But teams that win more than 65 games in the regular season, such as the Warriors, have a 43-3 series record after winning Game 1.
Of course, that offers no guarantee. The Warriors won Game 1 of the NBA Finals last season but lost the series to the Cavaliers.