Who should the San Antonio Spurs want to meet in the play-in?
By Josh Paredes
San Antonio Spurs
Offensive Rating: 111.1 (19th)
Offensive PPG: 111.1 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 112.4 (15th)
Opponents' PPG: 112.3 (17th)
Golden State Warriors
Offensive Rating: 110.9 (22nd)
Offensive PPG: 112.7 (19th)
Defensive Rating: 110.1 (5th)
Opponents' PPG: 112.7 (19th)
How do you stop someone who's scoring 32 points per game? Well, you don't. The Golden State Warriors go as Stephen Curry goes, and the most dangerous thing about that is he can win you games all by himself.
Despite not being particularly special offensively, the Warriors shoot the three accurately and often. With the NBA's best shooter ever leading the way, they're shooting 37.5 percent (9th) from downtown and getting up 38.7 (5th) attempts per game.
Defensively, Steve Kerr is working his magic by having his guys rated fifth on the back of their anchor, Draymond Green. Just like Memphis, the Spurs are outmatched on paper on both ends by this team.
Season Series Review
Jan. 20, 2021: Warriors def. Spurs 121-99
Leading scorers: Dejounte Murray (22), Stephen Curry (26)
Feb. 8, 2021: Spurs def. Warriors 105-100
Leading scorers: Dejounte Murray (27), Stephen Curry (32)
Feb. 9, 2021: Warriors def. Spurs 114-91
Leading scorers: Rudy Gay (17), Stephen Curry (32)
The bad news? The Spurs were absolutely run off the floor both times they lost to Golden State. Curry can score in his sleep against San Antonio, just like he can against everyone else. The Warriors also defended the three very well against the Spurs in all three encounters, which isn't an anomaly. Golden State is ranked 8th in opponents' 3-point percentage at 36.0.
The good news? Dejounte Murray has held his own against Curry, for the most part, this season, putting up 19 points per game in their matchups. He's also capable of bothering Steph one-on-one, but given that the Warriors are one of the best pick-and-roll teams in the league, he can't be the only one up to the task.
In a potential play-in tournament meeting, the Spurs can't afford to have Patty Mills end up stuck on Curry on switches very often, as was the case during the season. This could mean limiting his minutes, especially if he's not giving you much offensively. Will that be done? Most likely not.
Let me preface this by saying that both Memphis and Golden State are rightfully favorites in either scenario. That said, that's why they play the game. One breakout performance or hot night and boom, you have an upset.
Taking everything into consideration, I think the Spurs stand a slightly better chance against the Warriors. Do they have the best player of all three teams? Absolutely. But Memphis just has so many different guys that can kill you in different ways. They're much harder to gameplan for, especially in a one-game series. Oh, and they also have Jaren Jackson Jr back, who has burned the Spurs plenty in the past.
Steph Curry will always be a nightmare, but Ja Morant has dominated San Antonio just as much this season, so it's really a case of picking your poison. Either way, the Spurs will have their work cut out for them when the tournament begins on May 18.