In a match-up that some would expect to come in the conference finals, the second-seeded Golden State Warriors are taking on the seventh-seeded San Antonio Spurs. This is a rematch of last years’ conference finals, in which the Warriors swept the Spurs after a Kawhi Leonard injury. The Spurs will be looking for payback but will have to do so without their best player.
You know you’ve made it as a team when a 58 win season and the second seed is a letdown. But such is life after three straight finals appearances, including two wins. Everyone knows what the Warriors are made of.
This season was about two things, staying healthy and continuing to build chemistry among the big four. In that regard, this season was a letdown. Durant, Green and Thompson all missed extended periods for one reason or another, but as of now, they are a go for the playoffs. The same can’t be said to Stephen Curry.
After a knee injury caused by the clumsiest big men in the league, Zaza and Javale, the Dubs’s star has missed just around 30 games. Any Warriors’ fan will tell you the team just hasn’t been the same since Steph went down. Whether it was the team missing their two-time MVP or them simply not caring, it was still disheartening to watch.
The team lacked consistency and shooting. Regardless, most other teams would kill for a 58 win season. One bright spot: Quinn Cook. Going from a two-way contract to a bonafide bench piece is nothing short of remarkable. Cook had bounced around the league, never finding any footing. He has now with the Warriors. With Curry and backup PG Shaun Livingston missing extended time, Cook came up big more than once. The Warriors were able to find a diamond in the rough with Cook.
If Golden State’s season was a let-down, then the Spurs’ was a disaster. For the first time since the Nintendo 64 was a premium gaming console, the Spurs were in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. They didn’t because of that Pop magic. But still. Big deal.
The issue with the Spurs all season has been one thing: no Kawhi. The star small forward for the Spurs only played nine games this season due to a right quad injury. That’s not the only bad news. There have been reports that Kawhi and the Spurs have clashed, including a players-only meeting to discuss why he’s still out or Tony Parker saying his injury was “100” times worse than Kawhi’s.
The team simply NEEDS Kawhi if they have any chance in the playoffs. He’s arguably the best perimeter defender and a top-tier scorer. Those are hard to come by. Despite all the rumors and injuries, the Spurs were able to make it as a no. 7 seed, because you should never bet against Pop.
This series isn’t nearly as fun as it should be. On one hand, the Spurs are missing their best player and the games’ best all-around player in Kawhi, while the Warriors are missing their two-time champ and MVP in Curry. Warriors’ fans will tell you, Durant might be the better player, but Curry is the backbone of the team and it’s most important piece.
The difference between these two teams: the Spurs without Kawhi have one all-star (LaMarcus Aldridge) while the Warriors have three (Thompson, Durant and Green).
Simply put, the Warriors out man and out gun this Spurs team. However, the Spurs still have Pop, so it’s hard to say outright that the Warriors are gonna run through this Spurs’ team like tissue.
But that ‘s basically what I’m saying.
With no one to guard Durant, the Warriors have a huge advantage. The Spurs will counter with Aldridge, but Draymond Green will help equalize that.
The Spurs will need their bench of Patty Mills, Rudy Gay and Manu to step up big in this series if they hope to have a chance. A slow paced Spurs team, running their offense through Aldridge and using every single possession could wear down the Warriors, who are susceptible to getting cold and even sloppy.
Overall though, there is too much talent on this Warriors’ team, so I’m going with them.