Feb 22, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee (10) and San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) battle for the rebound during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
If the Golden State Warriors don’t wear those hideous sleeved uniforms this series, then maybe I can respect them as an opponent.
Nope, just kidding. I can’t do it.
After anxiously waiting 8 days to start the semifinals, the San Antonio Spurs will finally continue on the road to 16 wins and a fifth title, on Monday. Now that we finally know the opponent, the Air Alamo staff got together and gave their thoughts on the series and each teams keys to victory.
1. What must the Spurs do to win this series?
Michael Rehome, Lead Editor: Continue with what they did against the Los Angeles Lakers. Everyone needs to be and stay involved in the game. It pretty much starts with Tony Parker and what he does for the team. When he creates his own shot, he is deadly. If Golden State concentrates too long on him, this will open up for other players to step up. Danny Green was nowhere to be found against the Lakers. With the Warriors he too needs to step up and make some plays, on the offensive end. Matt Bonner needs to continue to shoot the ball with confidence as he did in round one. Tim Duncan, well he is Tim Duncan so he will do what he does. Bench, bench and bench. The Spurs bench averaged 40 a game. If they continue this with a healthy Manu Ginobili, they will lead the Spurs into the Western Conference Finals.
Eric Bishop, Staff Writer: While the answers are simple, they are not the least easy. The Spurs have to chase the Warriors off the three point line and make them shoot uncomfortable mid range shots. They have to get Bogut in foul trouble or at least neutralize his effectiveness on the defensive end and rebounding. Finally, run Stephen Curry through multiple picks and make whoever he guards the main guy on offense wearing him out. Run through multiple picks not only tiring him, but wearing him out physically. He can’t take pain shots forever.
John Diaz, Staff Writer: San Antonio took advantage of the Lakers age and injuries by creating turnovers and pushing the tempo on offense. Tim Duncan’s outlet passes often get overlooked, as no one’s mentioned that the Spurs were the best fastbreak team in the first round of the playoffs. Granted Golden State’s athleticism will help them transition on defense better than Los Angeles did, but the Warriors offense runs primarily through the perimeter. The Spurs defense on the wing will be critical to slowing down the Warriors and sparking the Spurs offense.
April 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after making a basket against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Nuggets 115-101. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
2. What must the Warriors do to win this series?
MR: Without David Lee, it seems as the Warriors will need to depend more on the role players, not just Stephen Curry. I believe that Klay Thompson could be a key factor for them to win the series. Against the Denver Nuggets, he averaged under his season of 16 points per game with a 14.6.
EB: Let anyone but Duncan or Parker beat you. Again, easier said than done. Get Stephen Curry open with pick and roll offense and be aggressive with his shots. Put Klay Thompson on Parker and hope he can stay in front of him and slow him down ALA Thabo Sefolosha. Also, let Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner beat you at all costs.
JD: Clone Steph Curry four times and play all five Curry’s 48 minutes in every game. But honestly, unless the Ghost of Richard Jefferson comes back to haunt the Spurs, or Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes mature before our eyes and become the stars they’ll soon be, the Warriors best chance is just to limit the Spurs bigs as much as possible and pray Stephen Curry can continue his laser shooting in the semifinals.
3. Who needs to be the Spurs MVP versus the Warriors?
MR: Kawhi Leonard. I believe that we will see Leonard on both Klay Thompson and Steph Curry during this series. He has proven to be a defensive go to guy for San Antonio. As we have seen during the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors series, if Curry is bottled up, played ‘physically’ he gets out of his game. I feel that Leonard can be a huge key on the defensive end. Offensively, he needs to continue to attack the rim. Don’t settle for jumpers.
EB: The MVP quite easily has to be a co MVP in Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Parker’s penetration will open the threes up in the corners and top of the key. Duncan’s dominance on the inside would get the Warrior’s bigs in trouble there by limiting their impact on the offensive and defensive end forcing Bogut, Landry, Green to the bench.
JD: San Antonio’s big men. David Lee is a stiff on defense and his injury won’t help rectify that any. With Bogut’s injury history, as long as the Spurs get physical with him down low they can neutralize any defensive presence they seemingly have. Feed Duncan, let Diaw create for others in the post like he’s able to, and if Splitter’s healthy, then make him a focal point of the offense.
Mar 20, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter (22) drives for the basket between Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) and center Andrew Bogut (12) during the first half at the AT
4. Who needs to be the Warriors MVP versus the Spurs?
MR: Steph Curry. He has been their scoring leader all year long. The kid can flat out shoot the basketball. All you can do is shake your head because he is so good at it. The offense goes through Curry. He will have a hard time shaking off Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard as Gregg Popovich we know will surely be throwing different players at him. Curry will have to keep his head in order for the Warriors to win in this series.
EB: Jarret Jack. Yeah, I’m nuts, but I think Curry and Thompson will get theres, so who needs to produce to win? Well easily in the Warriors victories over the Spurs, it has been Jarret Jack who killed them and opened things up for Curry and others. Bogut is important, but Jack’s offense is a much higher need.
JD: Obvious, answer is obvious: Stephen Curry. He’s averaging 24.3 points, 9.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds in the playoffs, all while shooting a ridiculous 44% from beyond the arch. And it’s not just how he’s shooting, it’s the shots he’s taking. Curry is already in range the moment he crosses halfcourt. For example:
In case you forgot, this is where Stephen Curry’s first field goal of last night’s game came from.twitpic.com/cmvjut
— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 29, 2013
5. Series predictions?
MR: San Antonio will be well rested. Some say it means doom for the other Western Conference teams and others think that it is to much of a layoff for them. No matter how much time is in between series, a healthy San Antonio team is a scary team. The Warriors have proven to put up some big fights but as they have proven in game six, they fold when pressured. With coming off of the sweep, and San Antonio having that championship swag back, my prediction will have to be San Antonio will win this series. San Antonio in five.
EB: I think the Spurs receive a much tougher contest than LA, but of course the Bucks would’ve put up a tougher fight than the Lakers. I think the Spurs bigs if they stay out of foul trouble will dominate the small Warriors on the inside. The Spurs perimeter defense of Parker, Ginobili, Leonard, and Green will be able to do just enough to slow their shooters and force turnovers and bad shots. I think Parker now close to 100% blows up along side Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs win in 5 comfortably.
JD: The Spurs are about as close to being 100% healthy as they’ve been since the start of training camp. Splitter’s return (which will most likely happen at some point during the series) will be vital to the offense and defense. Even though San Antonio was just going through the motions against Los Angeles, they’ll be fully prepared and ready to lay the hammer on Golden State and their inexperience. With that being said, Oracle Arena in the playoffs is a scary place. So I’ll be generous to the Warriors and their fantastic fans. Spurs in six.
For perspective on the Golden State Warriors, head over to Fansided’s own Blue Man Hoop.