San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors
Date and Time: Sunday, May 14, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Spurs vs. Warriors TV Coverage: ABC
No one saw this coming. Already without Tony Parker and minus Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs rolled into Houston and eliminated the Rockets on Thursday with a dominating 114-75 victory. They got plenty of help from the Rockets, who couldn’t hit the side of a barn, but we can credit San Antonio’s defense for part of that. The player the Spurs could least afford to be without wasn’t even needed in the closeout victory because LaMarcus Aldridge and Jonathon Simmons picked up the slack.
Starting in place of Leonard, Simmons was a beast scoring 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting and pestering the Rockets defensively. The Spurs absolutely needed Aldridge to step up on the offensive side and he did. L.A. hit 16 of 26 shots, most right around the basket as he displayed his versatility in the paint to score 34 points. He added 12 rebounds. The Spurs showed off their depth against the Rockets but they will need Leonard on the floor to have a chance against the Warriors. Leonard wanted to play on Thursday, but the Spurs were cautious and it likely paid off. His ankle should be fine after several days of rest and treatment.
A week off after dispatching Portland in the first round didn’t affect the Warriors, and I doubt another few days off after sweeping Utah will pose a problem. However, the Spurs might. Golden State has made it look easy so far, winning all eight playoff games by an average of 16.5 points with seven of those victories by double-digits. But the Warriors lost two of three regular season meetings with the Spurs, including a 29-point drubbing at Oracle on opening night.
That was a long time ago and the Dubs are a much different team now that they’ve worked Kevin Durant into the lineup and have a solid group of reserves. The Dubs went through a tough stretch in March with Durant out and lost in San Antonio with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala all resting. Since that game the Warriors are an absurd 23-1, including playoffs, and they worked the Spurs in San Antonio 110-98 during that stretch with a full roster.
The Spurs had the best defensive rating in the NBA during the regular season and they clamped down on the high-scoring Rockets. San Antonio will have to keep it up against the Warriors. Without their best player and defender on Thursday, the Spurs held the Rockets to 28.6 percent shooting and a season low point total in their clinching victory. The Spurs ranked second in points per game allowed in the regular season and limited the Rockets to fewer than 100 points three times. Houston had just five such games in the regular year.
Leonard should be in the lineup for Game 1 and his defensive pressure is needed to slow down the Dubs. Golden State averaged just over 98 points in three games against the Spurs, but their 85-point effort came without Curry, Durant, Thompson and Green taking the floor. With the gang all together, the Warriors are 23-1 since losing in San Antonio on Mar. 11 and have scored at least 102 points in every win, including an average of 111 points per game against Utah’s top-ranked scoring defense in their conference semifinal sweep.
Spurs vs. Warriors Free Picks
The Warriors might actually be challenged in this series. They swept both series leading up to this one, winning all eight games by an average of 16.5 points. While the Dubs have the offensive weapons, they’ve been outstanding defensively, which will pose a problem for the Spurs. Aldridge will be the X-factor for San Antonio. He hasn’t performed particularly well against the Dubs and was sleepwalking through the postseason until Thursday.
I anticipate this game to be close and low-scoring with both clubs leaning on defense. That style and pace suits the Spurs, and with Leonard back in the lineup, they will make the Dubs work. Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu and consider the under as the teams feel each other out. The Spurs won’t back down and they’ve been waiting for this showdown since last season.
Spurs vs. Warriors ATS Pick: Look to the under at BookMaker.eu
Spurs vs. Warriors Score Prediction: Spurs 105 – Warriors 103