San Antonio Spurs News

The Most Important Game of the Season is Here.

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
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The day has finally come where the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors will play each other with a number one seed on the line.

The biggest game of the season is finally upon us.

The second-seed Spurs will host the one-seed Warriors at the AT&T Center tonight.

The Warriors are coming off a road victory last night against the Houston Rockets, extending their winning streak to eight games and reaching 60 wins on the season.

The Spurs are a 4.5 point favorite tonight vs the Warriors.

GS was the underdog last night in Houston and still came up victorious.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 29, 2017

Despite their record and winning streak, Vegas still believes the Spurs are the favorites tonight.

The Spurs are coming off a home victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, extending their winning streak to five games. In the month of March, the Spurs are 12-3.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn't plan to sit anyone healthy at San Antonio. Forward Draymond Green (ankle) expects to play.

— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) March 29, 2017

Tonight is a clash of the two best teams in the NBA, and the Spurs will have to replicate their performance from Monday night to beat a team of this caliber, especially because they will not be resting their starters for this matchup.

The Spurs appear to be playing all of their starters, with the exception of Dejounte Murray.

Dejounte Murray is the only player listed as out on the Spurs' injury report for Wednesday's game vs the Warriors.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 28, 2017

With a win tonight, the Spurs will sweep the Warriors for the regular season.

However, the first matchup was the first game of the season, before the Warriors were “acclimated.” While that’s a viable excuse, it still doesn’t warrant losing by 29 points at home.

The second matchup took place a few weeks ago, but the game was stripped of it’s entertainment value when the Warriors decided to rest Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. In their defense, it was in response to Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge missing the game due to their respective injuries.

Nevertheless, it feels as though tonight will be the first time we can see both of these teams play each other at full strength (minus Kevin Durant). So, almost full strength?

Previous Matchups

The first time these teams faced each other was back on October 25th (opening night). The Spurs put on a clinic, scoring 30 points each in all four quarters, winning 129-100.

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  • The Warriors were led by Durant, who scored 27 points on 11/18 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Curry chipped in 26 points on 9/18 shooting, along with three rebounds and four assists. Green finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals.

    The Spurs were led by Leonard, who put up 35 points on 10/21 shooting, including five rebounds, three assists, five steals and a perfect 15/15 from the free-throw line. Aldridge pitched in 26 points on 10/20 shooting, along with 14 rebounds. Jonathan Simmons had 20 points off the bench, while Patty Mills had 11 points and five assists.

    Both teams were efficient offensively. The Spurs shot 48% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc, while the Warriors shot 47% from the field, and 21.2% from beyond the arc.

    The Warriors, who live and die by the three point shot, died by the three point shot on opening night against the Spurs.

    However, it was the rebounding that separated both these teams. The Spurs grabbed 55 total rebounds, including 21 offensive rebounds. The Warriors mustered just 35 rebounds, with eight of them coming on the offensive end.

    If you get out-rebounded by 20, you aren’t creating second opportunities for your team, especially when you aren’t shooting the ball well. The Warriors are still struggling with this rebounding issue, which is even more evident without Durant, who was leading the Warriors in rebounding, averaging 8.2 a game before his injury.

    In the second matchup, the battle of the benches was won by the Spurs, 107-85.

    While it’s not worth mentioning the stats, it is worth mentioning that win pulled the Spurs within 0.5 games of the Warriors. Today, the lead is up to 2.5 games.

    This Matchup

    All signs are leading to this game being a closely contested matchup till the very end.

    All signs pointed to the Cavaliers game being closely contested as well, but the Cavaliers were not on an eight game winning streak entering that game.

    The Spurs will have to play to their advantages tonight.

    Much like the game against the Cavaliers, the Spurs will have to rely on their half-court defense to disrupt the Warriors. If you let the Warriors get out in transition, they become the most lethal team in the NBA.

    More from Spurs News

    How do you limit them in transition? Limiting turnovers and rebounding. The Spurs commit 13.4 turnovers per game, 10th in the NBA. The Warriors commit 14.8 turnovers per game, 22nd in the NBA.

    While they are both average rebounding teams, the Spurs have an advantage on the boards against the Warriors. Durant was their leading rebounder, and he will not be playing tonight. Green is the second leading rebounder with 8.1 rebounds per game, followed by their center Zaza Pachulia, who averages just six rebounds per game.

    If the Spurs get into a shooting match, they won’t be happy with the results. The Warriors average 115.9 points per game, first in the NBA. The Warriors are also first in offensive efficiency. They also love to hoist up three pointers, ranking fifth in attempts in third in makes.

    However, if the Spurs can slow the game down, like they did against the Cavaliers, the advantage shifts in their favor. The Spurs allow 98.1 points per game, second in the NBA. In terms of defensive efficiency, the Spurs rank first in the NBA. The Spurs are also holding their opponents to 34.0% from beyond the arc, third in the NBA.

    Essentially, this is a battle of the best offensive team in the NBA against the best defensive team in the NBA. Except, the Warriors are exceptional defensively, and the Spurs are above-average in most offensive categories.

    This will simply come down to execution, something both teams do incredibly well.

    Prediction

    There is something about the Spurs being favored by 4.5 that scares me.

    The Warriors are playing with a chip on their shoulder since losing Durant and suffering some losses earlier this month, as people were beginning to question their legitimacy. The Warriors are fully aware that beating the Spurs in San Antonio will quiet down the haters.

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    By the same token, the Spurs acknowledge the immense significance of this game.

    Let’s put it bluntly: If the Spurs lose this game, they will fall 3.5 games behind the Warriors, and can basically kiss the first seed goodbye. The Warriors schedule eases after this game, and making up 3.5 games in eight games is unrealistic.

    However, if the Spurs win tonight, they will close the gap to 1.5 games. Although making up 1.5 games in eight remaining games is still challenging, the odds are evidently better.

    Not to mention, pulling within 1.5 games would force the Warriors to continue playing their starters down the stretch to secure the one seed.

    At the very least, it tires out the Warriors starters just in time for the playoffs. If the Warriors are up 3.5 games, they can strategically rest players according to their matchups.

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    With that being said, I believe the Spurs will grind out a tough victory tonight.

    Green will be forced to cover Aldridge, leaving Leonard with Patrick McCaw. This is a matchup Leonard has to take advantage of, at least until the Warriors shift Thompson off Danny Green and onto Leonard. At that point, it will be up to the Spurs second-unit, who i’m confident will extend the lead (or cut the deficit) against a depleted Warriors bench.

    Leonard goes over 30 points, Aldridge goes over 20 points, while Pau Gasol and Mills contribute 15+ points each off the bench.

    Spurs close out the game late in regulation, winning 108-104.

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