Game Preview: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs

October 25, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) dribbles the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 129-100. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
October 25, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) dribbles the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 129-100. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The two best teams in the NBA will face-off on Saturday night on ABC, except all the players you wanted to see are missing.

The game we have all been waiting for has been dismantled.

During the Thursday night matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kawhi Leonard left the game late in the third quarter after being struck in the face.

Although reports assumed he did not suffer a concussion, the San Antonio Spurs announced that he will enter concussion protocol, and miss tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

Spurs announce Kawhi Leonard (hit in the head Thursday in OKC) entered the league’s concussion protocol today & won’t play Saturday vs GSW.

— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) March 10, 2017

At this point, Spurs fans were deflated. The battle for Western supremacy was on the line, and Leonard wouldn’t be there to join the Spurs in battle.

Yesterday, the Warriors traveled to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves, a team that has been above-average since the All-Star break. The Timberwolves pulled out a close victory, 103-102, cutting the Warriors lead to just 1.5 games in the West.

Then, Steve Kerr decided to grant the Spurs a gift.

Coach Kerr announced that Curry (rest), Green (rest), Iguodala (rest) & Thompson (rest) will not play tomorrow night in San Antonio.

— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) March 11, 2017

Not only will Leonard be unavailable, but the Warriors Big-3 will also miss tonight’s game.

From an entertainment standpoint, this big-time matchup just became a battle of the benches, and the interest level has dropped dramatically.

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From a fan standpoint, the Spurs should have a pretty big advantage in tonight’s game, considering the Warriors best four players (arguably five) won’t be on the court (Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala).

From ABC’s standpoint, this game they’ve been promoting for a week is an absolute disaster, and ratings will likely be as low as they have all season.

Nevertheless, for Spurs and Warrior fans, there will still be a game played tonight.

Although the excitement level has dwindled, the importance of this game has not.

This Game is Crucial

This game is vital for two reasons.

The first, and the most obvious, is to cut the Warriors lead in the West to just 0.5 games. If the Spurs can muster up a great performance without the services of Leonard, the Spurs and the Warriors will both have 14 losses on the season.

Again, it's hard to predict Pop but with Leonard already out I assume anyone else who is available will play vs GS. (Don't hold me to that).

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) March 11, 2017

Since the injury to Durant, the Warriors are 2-4, and a loss tonight will make that 2-5.

The Warriors are going through their “Rodeo Road Trip” so to speak, and their starters are playing heavy minutes trying to win these games. Basically, a window has opened for the Spurs, and they must take advantage of it tonight.

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Secondly, and most importantly, the Spurs won the first matchup on opening night against the Warriors, 129-100.

With a win tonight, the Spurs will improve to 2-0 against the Warriors, with only one more game left in the regular season series. If the season came down a tie-breaker between the two teams, the Spurs will own that advantage.

This game may not bring the excitement it should have with two loaded rosters, but the vitality of this game is still very much present. A win tonight could give the Spurs the tie-breaker, and cut the deficit to just 0.5 games with 17 games left in the season.

The Spurs and the Warriors will face-off one more time on March 29th in the AT&T center.


This would have been a tough call had Leonard been the only player missing this game.

However, in a game where Durant, Curry, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala aren’t playing, there is no way I can pick against the Spurs.

INJURY REPORT- Kawhi Leonard (concussion protocol) is out & Tony Parker (back stiffness) is questionable for tomorrow’s Spurs-Warriors game

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 10, 2017

It is also likely that Tony Parker may be rested for precautionary reasons, especially since the Warriors are resting the majority of their players.

This is a close-to-healthy Spurs team who are coming off a loss in Oklahoma City, and regardless of the product on the floor, are eager to get a win against the Warriors.

Although ESPN has the Spurs and Warriors odds at even right now, the Spurs should be favored to win this game. If the Warriors had rested their big-3 last year, i’d say this game is still up in the air. Unfortunately, they gave up key role players in the pursuit of Durant this offseason.

Spurs are now 50-14, equaling the third-best record EVER through 64 games in San Antonio franchise history.

— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) March 10, 2017

With that being said, I don’t think the Warriors stand any chance at victory tonight, unless Gregg Popovich wants to one-up Kerr, and rest the majority of his starters as well.

Look for LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, and David Lee to have a field-day against the Warriors front-court, who are the clear-cut weakness of this Warrior team.

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Spurs win and improve to 51-14 on the season, just 0.5 games back of the Warriors.

The hunt for the first seed continues.