The San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors are the two prohibitive favorites to meet in the Western Conference Finals, but each team seems to be trending in different directions.
Due in large part to a favorable first round draw, the Spurs disposed of the Memphis Grizzlies in relatively easy fashion to not only earn a 4 game sweep, but the extra rest that comes with finishing a series early.
The Spurs are a team full of aging veterans, and the added rest might be even more necessary for them than it would be for a more youthful team. The Spurs have the oldest average player age of any team in the NBA, and grueling series can begin to take their toll.
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The Warriors are up 3-1 against the Houston Rockets, but Stephen Curry left game 4 with a knee injury. He had previously missed the last 2 games with an ankle injury.
While there isn’t significant fear that the Warriors will lose this series without Curry based on how they’ve fared sans their MVP, anxiety surely floods their minds when thinking ahead to whether or not they can win a championship without him.
More information will be known in the next couple days regarding the extent of Curry’s newest injury, but if his leg injuries either keep him out for extended periods of time or notably hinder his performance, it’s hard to realistically make the case that the Warriors are the favorites to come out of the Western Conference over a healthy Spurs squad.
When the Warriors beat the Spurs in San Antonio on April 10, they definitively became the favorites to advance out of the Western Conference. That was when both teams were healthy, however, and things can change in the blink of an eye.
Remember, these are two historically great teams. The Warriors set the wins record and still only finished with 6 more wins than the Spurs. For a team coming off the greatest regular season ever, they were never going to be considered the type of favorites to win the championship that normally gets heaped upon a team like that.
The Spurs are exactly where they want to be. They’ve flown under the radar for the entire season while still managing to win as many games as last year’s champion Warriors team won. Now they’re going to get at least a week off as they wait for the other series to come to an end. They’ll be fresh and ready to go for the semifinals.
Any development either minor or major between these two franchises was going to tip the scale in favor of one or the other, considering how close they are in terms of talent. Most people still expected the series to go to 7 games no matter who they gave the advantage. Curry being injured is catastrophic for the Warriors’ chances to beat the Spurs in the WCF, much less win the championship.
The Warriors have a roster of talented and resilient players besides Curry, and they’d still be favorites to advance past either the Los Angeles Clippers or Portland Trailblazers in the semifinals without him. The Spurs are a completely different story, though, and the Warriors would need their MVP to have any chance at conquering this Spurs team.