The San Antonio Spurs marched into Oracle Arena Thursday night for a highly anticipated rematch of last season’s thrilling Western Conference semifinals matchup. Unfortunately, the Spurs appeared to be content with tossing this game to the side, announcing just hours before tip-off that their Big Three — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli — would sit this one out. It’s the second time in just over a year that Gregg Popovich has told his All-Star trio to take a hike on a TNT double-header, but this time, the league didn’t fine him due to advance notice (Parker was already ruled out with a contusion, plus Pop didn’t brazenly fly anyone home — Duncan and Ginobli sat on the bench in street clothes).
However, similar to last year’s Big Three-less performance against Miami, the under-manned Spurs managed to stay competitive against the Warriors. Eventually, with the game winding down and the score tied 102-102, the Spurs had a couple chances to take the lead. Marco Belinelli missed a corner jumper, which was followed by a Boris Diaw scoop that bounced off the rim — into the hands of Mr. Right Place, Right Time, Tiago Splitter, who tapped in the go-ahead bucket. Splitter’s basket proved to be the difference, and most certainly made up for this embarrassing incident earlier in the game: