The Warriors have been bad against the San Antonio Spurs. Like, epically bad. The Spurs have won the last 29 contests played between the two in San Antonio. That date backs to 1997. The last of the Sprewell years. However, Jackson got his guys up for the regular season meetings against the Spurs and managed to win both the games against the Spurs in Oracle, knowing this was a potential playoff matchup, and the team would need the confidence later in the season knowing they could beat the (newly anointed) favorite in the West. Here’s 8 reasons why I think the Warriors have a shot to beat the Spurs in 6 or 7.
Neither team is close to being at full health. The Warriors are down a few more guys than the Spurs, but Manu Ginobili still isn’t at 100% after missing time from his hamstring injury. This could lead to one of the Warriors guards having a good matchup against a hobbled Ginobili, or forcing the Spurs to use Danny Green in extended minutes. Although a competent defender and good 3 pt shooter, he is nowhere near the assassin that Manu is and would be welcome in the lineup.
Neither team has a guy in the top 15 of free throw attempts this postseason. If Curry and Thompson could get on a red hot tear and start averaging more than 7 FT attempts per game each, they could carry the team. Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack are the only Warriors in the top 40 for attempts this postseason and this needs to change. Two of the highest percentage free throw shooters of all time need to know that sometimes you just have to put your head down and take it hard to the cup. Although I hold my breath every time Curry lands in traffic, I still stand by the fact that he could single handedly carry the team if he was averaging 10 a game, let alone 7.
Bogut’s Minutes vs. Duncan
Both players are in that medium-minutes type limbo to keep them fresh for the minutes they do play. Bogut needs to continue his explosive play and keep protecting the rim. Jackson also needs to realize if a game gets out of hand in San Antonio, that playing Bogut a total of <20 minutes wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Concede a game to have a healthy Bogut back home, I’m all in.
The Warriors have been getting banged up this postseason. George Karl and the Nuggets realized 2 games too late that the only way to stop Curry is to manhandle him, and I assure you it will not take the Spurs this long to take to this tactic. The one caveat: The Warriors actually have the bigger and stronger point guard in the series. The Warriors will have to deal with Parker on defense, but Curry should be able to feast against him on offense.
Home court advantage(s)
Each team won both of their home games in the season series this year. They always say a playoff series doesn’t really start until a road team steals a win, if the Warriors can snag one of those first two games they way they did against Denver, they have a very realistic shot to win out in Oakland. Don’t doubt the power of Oracle, it works in strange and mysterious ways. Just ask Dirk.
Kawhi Leonard and Harrison Barnes (via Richard Jefferson). Leonard is exactly what the Spurs thought they were getting when they traded for Richard Jefferson in 2009. Tough defense, ability to hit the corner three. Eventually they got that from Jefferson, only it took over a year and they were paying him over $8 mil to learn on the job. It was arguably the least ‘Spurs’ move of the last decade. They don’t pay bad veterans. Good veterans want to come to SA and play for cheap to grab that elusive title. But Jefferson eventually jelled and was an important part of their rotation for a few seasons. He knows their schemes, set plays, and what they want Leonard to do. Barnes needs to be in Jefferson’s ear every minute until game 1 learning everything the Spurs have taught Jefferson about being a wing on a championship caliber team.
This is not a ‘traditionally’ built Spurs team. Most of their championship teams were built to ground and pound on defense and hit you with their unstoppable bigs in the post, with a hint of elite slashing wings between Parker and Ginobili. While those three guys have stuck, just about every other piece has changed. This team that has been together the past few years is built more to play an uptempo, up and down brand of basketball. This is what gives the Warriors a chance. The Warriors have played uptempo ball since Nellie’s first go round in the early nineties, this is why the Spurs were so often a terrible matchup for them, elite half court game.
The Warriors have already, by far, exceeded everyone’s last expectation. The general consensus gong in to this season was to just contend for the 8 seed. No playoff goals, anything that happened in the postseason was just gravy on top. The Spurs are now considered the heavy favorite to make it out of the West. If the Warriors don’t get swept this series will have been a success. With all this pressure on the Spurs to outmatch the Warriors in every way, it’s conceivable the Warriors could keep one game close in San Antonio and steal one, meaning they only have to take care of business at home to have a shot at making to the Western Finals.
I’m not saying it’s likely the Warriors win, for the record, I’m picking Spurs in 6, but it only takes one bad game at home for the momentum to swing away from the Spurs. Keep Oracle strong and I’ll see you, Golden State, down in Texas on Monday.
Great DAILY DIME on ESPN highlighting the zaniness that was game 6.