San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors
Date and Time: Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 9 p.m. ET
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Spurs vs. Warriors TV Coverage: ESPN
Things started off so well for the Spurs in the opener. They jumped out to a big lead, prevented the Warriors from going on big runs and controlled the tempo. That resulted in a lead that climbed to a high of 25 points in the first half and was at 20 at the intermission. The Spurs knew what was coming from the Warriors, who have excelled in the third quarter. But they weren’t expecting what happened to Leonard, and it affected the rest of the club.
In what is likely the story of this series, Leonard went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter and the Spurs couldn’t stop the Dubs. Leonard exited with just under eight minutes to play in the third quarter and in his absence the Warriors rattled off the next 18 points to slice their deficit to five. Leonard was a handful during his time on the floor, scoring 26 points on 7 of 13 shooting while converting all 11 free throw attempts. What has to be disappointing for the Spurs is that after losing Leonard and a big lead, they were still in position to steal the game.
Getting down by 25 points is not the best game plan, but the Warriors are a team that has the ability to overcome big deficits. We haven’t seen it much in the postseason, but the Dubs have comeback and no lead is safe against them. They are a confident bunch and don’t deviate from their strengths, and even when they get down by a large margin, it seems they always make a run. The quick tempo and three-point shot are their biggest weapons and they were able to take advantage of the Spurs minus Leonard on Sunday.
The Dubs struggled in the first half, but when Leonard went down early in the third and trailing by 23, they turned on the afterburners. A three-pointer by Steph Curry started an 18-0 run that had the deficit at five in about four-and-a-half minutes. The Warriors shot 48.1 percent for the game but hit 60.5 percent in the second half and made nine of their 11 threes in the final two quarters while outscoring the Spurs 71-49. The 10-point spread was a bit excessive and the Dubs failed to cover, but the teams did cash the over for the third time in four meetings.
The Spurs got by Houston in the conference semifinal clinching game without Leonard in their most precise game of the postseason. But going a game or more without their best player against the Warriors could prove devastating. And given the Spurs treatment of injured players we could expect Leonard to sit Game 2. With Leonard in the game Sunday, the Spurs built a 25-point lead and were up by 23 when he exited in the third quarter. Golden State went on an 18-0 run to close the gap, outscored the Spurs 71-49 in the half and prevailed with a victory.
After Leonard hobbled to the locker room, the Warriors hit a blistering 58.3 percent of their shots connecting on 21 of 36, including six three-pointers. While the Spurs struggled to defend, they also had their difficulties on the offensive end of the floor. Without their leading scorer the group went stagnant, hitting just 37 percent of their shots and missing all seven three-pointers.
Spurs vs. Warriors Free Picks
It’s a shame the Spurs won’t be at full strength for the entire series because it would be a good one. Instead, they’ll have to maneuver around the tender ankle of Leonard, who could be rested on Tuesday with the hope of having him at close to 100 percent when the teams meet in Texas on Saturday. The Spurs were 10-point dogs in the opener and that could increase if Leonard doesn’t play. But the Spurs have proven to be a deep and unrelenting squad and the loss of Leonard shouldn’t prevent them from covering the spread.
Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu and remember what the Spurs did in Game 6 against Houston without Leonard. The rest of the team picked up the slack and they crushed the Rockets. The circumstances are obviously different, but the Spurs aren’t going to back down and expect Pop to make the adjustments necessary to keep his team close.
Spurs vs. Warriors ATS Pick: Grab the points with San Antonio at BookMaker.eu
Spurs vs. Warriors Score Prediction: Warriors 110 – Spurs 105