Scouting the Warriors: One More to 50

By Joe Buettner

Jan 4, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) and San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal (14) dive for a loose ball during the second half at the AT

Offensive rating: Spurs – 108.5 (1st), Warriors – 103.1 (T-11th)Defensive rating: Spurs – 100.6 (11th), Warriors – 106.0 (27th)Pace: Spurs – 94.9 (T-8th), Warriors – 94.6 (10th)Time: 9:30 p.m.TV: TNT

Three things to watch

50 wins not out of the question. San Antonio went in to the US Airways Center, and put a damper on what could have been Steve Nash’s last game as a Phoenix Sun. The second unit, led by Patty Mills, didn’t look too shabby against a Suns lineup that was missing Grant Hill and Channing Frye. Tonight’s game could be a similar result with a much weaker Warriors rotation. Whether any of the Big Three will play remains to be seen, but San Antonio definitely has the potential to win their 50th game of the season. A feat no one outside of San Antonio predicted before the season started.

NBA Lottery in mind. While the Spurs are poised to win their 50th game of the year, the Warriors will probably be more than happy to give it to them. Before Golden State won Sunday against Minnesota, Mark Jackson’s squad lost 16 of their last 19. Even though it is the last game of the year, I would not expect Oracle Arena to be rocking Thursday night. Maybe national television will get the team a bit fired up, but at the moment, Golden State does not have much to be celebrating about.

Patrick Mills. As mentioned, Patty Mills was huge last night at Phoenix. His services will definitely be needed during the playoffs as a back-up for Tony Parker. Let’s see if he can duplicate his performance against the Suns against the Warriors. If he can stay consistent, Mills will definitely be key on the Spurs’ journey to a fifth championship.

Final verdict. Spurs win by five. San Antonio is very capable of winning this game. I would like to say they could blowout the Warriors, but assuming Popovich rests up the team in preparation for the Utah Jazz, this could turn out to be a close one and come down to free throws or a last second shot.