Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs Series Preview

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The NBA playoffs are here!

The Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs are primed to meet in the post-season for the second straight year, but both teams have suffered major injuries.

The defending champs will likely be without two-time MVP Stephen Curry for the entirety of the series, while the Popovichian machine could be without silent superstar Kawhi Leonard as well.

Curry sprained his left MCL and has been out since March 23, while Leonard has missed every game since Jan. 13 with a mysterious quadriceps injury.

Regardless of these losses, there is still plenty of talent in this matchup of Western Conference foes. Here is the preview of the Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs match-up in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs.

Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs Series Preview

Team Stats

No. 2 Golden State, 58-24

#1 in Offensive Rating (112.3), #9 in Defensive Rating (104.2), #2 in Net Rating (8.1), #1 in FG%, 3PT%, FT% and Assists, #17 in Rebounding

No. 7 San Antonio, 47-35

#17 in ORtg (105.5), #4 in DRtg (102.4), #7 in Net Rating (3.1), #16 in FG%, #26 in 3PT%, #13 in FT%, #15 in Assists, #11 in Rebounding

Golden State won the season series 3-1.

Projected Starting Lineups

Warriors

PG Quinn Cook, SG Klay Thompson, SF Kevin Durant, PF Draymond Green, C Zaza Pachulia

Lineup Data: ORtg 95.1, DRtg 114.9, Net Rtg (-19.8), 46 total minutes

The Warriors have floundered without Curry, going 4-6 since Curry sprained his knee in March. The offense has looked lost during that stretch, even with three remaining All-Star talents.

The team remains adamant that Curry won’t play in the opening round.

It’s up to Kevin Durant to change that in the first round of the playoffs sans Curry. The game slows down in the playoffs, and the Spurs boast a stifling defense even without Leonard. Durant will have the opportunity to score points in bunches, and his defense should return to early-season form.

Thompson has been remarkably consistent this season and will need to remain that way without his normal backcourt partner. Without Curry on the court this season, Thompson’s field goal percentage has dropped almost 8 percent.

Recent addition Quinn Cook will need to serve as a reliable shooter and secondary playmaker.

Enigmatic forward Draymond Green will need to prove that he can up his overall game in the postseason after a lackluster regular season by his standards. Pachulia needs to stay out of the way and not blow wide-open layups.

Spurs

PG Patty Mills, SG Dejounte Murray, SF Danny Green, PF Kyle Anderson, C LaMarcus Aldridge

Lineup Data: ORtg 107.4, DRtg 94.3, Net Rtg (13.1), the most-used five-man lineup for the Spurs at 189 minutes this year

There was a moment where it looked as if San Antonio would actually miss the playoffs. To fans of the 30-or-younger crowd, that would be unheard of, as the Spurs have made the post-season every year since the 1997-98 season.

Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs righted the ship and their reward is a first-round date with the defending champs.

The key to their non-Leonard success is the re-emergence of LaMarcus Aldridge this season. The All-Star forward/center has averaged 23.1 points per game, only a hair off his career high.

His scoring gave the Spurs a lifeline when it became apparent that they would be without their silent small forward.

Mills, playing a career-high in minutes, has struggled with his efficiency at times, but he can still score in a hurry during crucial playoff games. Green has also struggled shooting the ball but is still solid harassing multiple positions on defense.

21-year-old Dejounte Murray took a step forward during his sophomore season, and he has proved to be a force on the defensive end and the boards.

Kyle Anderson has posted career highs across the board this season, despite being quite possibly the slowest NBA player ever. His quirky play and lack of burst confound players across the association, and his defense is underrated.

How The Series Plays Out

The Warriors win if…

The All-Star all turn things up for the playoffs in Curry’s absence. With no Leonard on the opposing side, Kevin Durant’s job will be exponentially easier. His scoring should hover around 30 per game.

Thompson and Green must make huge contributions on both ends. Cook needs to play within himself and keeps the offense flowing. The bench has to come in, play stifling defense, and make timely shots.

Most importantly, the Warriors win if no one else gets injured.

The Spurs win if…

Several things occur. First, Popovich has to coach circles around Steve Kerr. The Spurs’ gameplan should include Thompson handling the ball and Green taking and missing three-pointers.

San Antonio locks up on defense, but Mills and Green both have to make threes at well above their season averages to extend the series. Murray needs to use his length to make Thompson’s life hell on the wing.

The biggest key is how Aldridge plays on offense. During last season’s series in the playoffs against the Dubs, Aldridge wilted offensively after Leonard sprained his ankle.

With defenders like Green opposite him, one would think Aldridge always struggles against Golden State. However, in four games this season, Aldridge shot 53 percent (41-of-78) from the field.

Starting Aldridge at center means Pachulia will start off guarding him, and hot starts for Aldridge are a must for the Spurs.

Non-starters Rudy Gay, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker have to play well for stretches.

Pop and the Spurs famously get positive contributions from unlikely bench players. They will need players like Bryn Forbes and Davis Bertans to make open looks from beyond the arc.

Prediction

Warriors in five.

Pop wills the Spurs to a win, probably one of Games 3 and 4 in San Antonio, but the Warriors’ star power is too much.

Just as important, a quick series means the Warriors can rest up before a second-round tilt against either the Portland Trail Blazers or the New Orleans Pelicans.

Happy playoffs, everyone!

(all stats courtesy of nba.com and basketballreference.com)

 

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