The big matchup on Sunday between the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors will set the tone for what seems like an inevitable Western Conference Finals between the two squads.
Everybody can agree that these are the best two teams in the league. The order where they lie is what has still yet to be determined, or at the very least the gap between the two.
Basketball fans tend to be prisoners of the moment, and after a blowout win for the Warriors on Thursday, talk around the association is that the Warriors are head and shoulders above this Spurs group that looked inefficient on offense and generally sluggish compared to the explosive Warriors.
This verdict might be slightly hasty, and a little unfair. More will be known about what this historic playoff matchup would bring after the game in San Antonio on Sunday, assuming that Gregg Popovich makes all his key players available.
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The Spurs are on the verge of going undefeated at home. Considering that it has never before occurred in an NBA season, it provides perspective for what a remarkable achievement that is.
The psychological weapon that the Spurs would have going into the playoffs after being unvanquished at their home arena would be a powerful tool to wield against future opponents. Even if the Warriors pass or tie the regular season wins record, a potential series against the Spurs would still feature a handful of games in San Antonio, nearly assuring that the Warriors couldn’t advance past the Spurs in less than 7 games.
If the Spurs win in San Antonio on Sunday, the playoff matchup between these two teams is essentially framed by one critical question: “is it more likely that the Spurs steal a game in Oakland, or that the Warriors steal a game in San Antonio?”
How a person answers that question will determine who they think gets crowned the eventual Western Conference Champion. Even if a person contends they’re evenly matched, more games would be played in Oakland than San Antonio, so the Spurs would need to be the team that defied expectations more than the Warriors, who’d simply need to take care of business in front of their frenzied crowd.
This game on Sunday is huge for both teams. Their invincibility at home is the one trump card the Spurs still retain over the Warriors. If they not only lose that feat but lose it to the team that’s considered their main obstacle towards a championship, the future consequences of that loss could be devastating from an emotional standpoint.
Popovich and company have taught doubters to never count them out before defeat is absolutely assured, but this Warriors team might be the greatest challenge they’ve ever had to face. Sunday will speak volumes about these two teams as the playoffs loom large.