SAN ANTONIO -- Anybody expecting the devastating Game 1 loss to have a lasting effect on the Warriors would have been surprised Tuesday.
Not only were they feeling good about their chances for Game 2, but they also were finding reassurance in the crushing setback to the San Antonio Spurs a night earlier.
At Tuesday's practice, you might've thought they'd won based on the confidence they exuded. Many think the Warriors are done, that they missed their one shot to control this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series. But the Warriors say they feel good about their prospects for Game 2 on Wednesday. To them, the heartbreaking, 129-127 loss in double overtime also was reassuring.
No doubt, it sounds crazy to think of an epic collapse being a confidence builder. But these Warriors are a little bit crazy. Too young to know any better, too brazen to be intimidated by reality. The Warriors, tempered by respect for an NBA institution, are convinced San Antonio has to deal with them.
"We deserve to be here in this situation, regardless of age and experience," point guard Stephen Curry said. "We feel very confident with where we're at right now."
The percolating sense from the Warriors side was that they gave away that game, that before they blew a 16-point lead in the final four minutes, San Antonio was in trouble.
The matchups they wanted to exploit produced fruit. The mini goals they set were accomplished. The Warriors shot 51 percent, outrebounded the Spurs by 10 and limited San Antonio to 42 points in the paint.
That they lost anyway doesn't seem to be demoralizing, instead evidence they can assert their will over the Spurs in some key areas.
Of course, San Antonio big man Tim Duncan, who was battling the stomach flu, has a couple more levels to his game. The Spurs also might get center Tiago Splitter (sprained ankle) back in the starting lineup. And can you bank on guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili missing 30 of their 46 shots again?
But the Warriors have some elements to hang their hats on, too. They had success going at Parker, especially Curry and guard Klay Thompson. Duncan had a solid game (19 points and 11 rebounds), and it didn't hurt them. They were able to dictate the pace most of the game, and their spry legs made the Spurs look every bit a veteran team.
"The beautiful thing about this is redemption," Thompson said. "I think we are as good if not better than this team."
And Golden State most certainly still has the underdog card.
"There's no pressure on us. We're not supposed to be here," backup guard Jarrett Jack said. "We still have confidence knowing that before that four-minute stretch we were able to amass a 16-point lead, which is not easy to do against a team such as them."
Curry said the team showed its resiliency in the very game it choked away. Conventional wisdom, he said, was that the Warriors would get crushed in overtime after the Spurs' furious rally erased their lead. But that never happened. Instead, the Warriors had two chances to win it after their monumental collapse.
"This is a tough, tough basketball team that I have," coach Mark Jackson said. "Mentally tough, great competitors. I think it says a lot about the DNA of our basketball team, that on the road against a championship caliber team with great history and four future Hall of Famers, that we battled and put ourselves in position to win the ballgame."
Their film session revealed the mistakes they made. They got stagnant on offense. They missed free throws. They didn't run back in transition. They missed shots they feel they normally make. They tightened as the momentum shifted to San Antonio.
But that's all what they failed to do. In their minds, if they correct those things, then Game 2 is theirs.
Delusions of grandeur? Glass half-full approach? Denial? Perhaps. Maybe they just don't have the experience to see what's coming, a healthier San Antonio squad that has shaken off the rust. But not seeing it is exactly how they got to this point.
"If the game were to turn out a little different, we wouldn't be answering those questions," Curry said. "They're a good basketball team. You can't ignore the fact that they've been on this level every year, it seems like, and have won championships. But we're a good basketball team, as well, that has been playing at a high level for a long time."
Kawakami: Mark Jackson sees himself in Jarrett Jack. Page 5
Poole: Curry, Thompson are Warriors' indispensable players. Page 5
Warriors search for answers after consecutive late-game collapses. Page 5
GAME 2: Warriors at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m. TNT