Now the 2017 NBA playoffs get interesting! The Western Conference Finals matchup every impartial fan wanted to see begins Sunday when San Antonio visits Golden State for Game 1. Are the Warriors giving too many points?
NBA Playoff Record: 5-2San Antonio Spurs At Golden State Warriors (-10, 211)
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals from Oracle Arena in Oakland is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET and shown on ABC. If we are being honest, the 2017 NBA playoffs have been a total bore with blowout after blowout. Teams facing elimination at home are 0-10.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have both swept their way into their respective conference finals, and it would be a stunner if they don’t meet for an unprecedented third straight time in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors have won seven of their eight games this postseason by double digits (5-3 ATS on NBA odds). The only one they didn’t was Game 3 of the quarterfinal round in Portland, 119-113. Kevin Durant was out injured for that one and it was the first time this season the Dubs played without head coach Steve Kerr. He hasn’t returned since and isn’t going to be ready for Game 1 against the Spurs as Kerr deals with side effects from back surgeries.
It would be surprising if Kerr returns at all in these playoffs. So interim coach Mike Brown continues to run the team. He’s a protégé of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Brown was a video coordinator with the Denver Nuggets when hired as a Spurs assistant by Pops in 2000. Brown eventually got his first head coaching gig with Cleveland and his Cavs were swept by Popovich’s Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals. if there’s one edge that San Antonio has in this series, it would be on the bench.
The Warriors as we know them – i.e. the greatest three-year regular-season stretch in NBA history – hadn’t played the Spurs in the playoffs. The teams last met in 2013, when San Antonio won in the West semifinals in six games. I take absolutely nothing from that result. Two years ago, the Spurs were ousted in the first round by the Clippers, and last year the Thunder upset the Spurs in the conference semifinals.
Golden State is -1100 on the BetOnline series line with San Antonio at +775.
Will Kawhi Be 100 Percent?
While the Warriors haven’t played since finishing off Utah on Monday and are fully healthy (among players), the Spurs will have had just two days off after blowing out the Rockets 114-75 in Houston to end that series in six games Thursday. If you saw San Antonio winning that by 39 points without Kawhi Leonard, the best two-way player in the NBA, then kudos to you. The Spurs are now 8-1 this season without their leading scorer and the league’s best perimeter defender.
It sounds as if Leonard could have played through his sprained ankle Thursday, but Popovich opted to play it safe and is looking genius for doing so. Leonard expects to play in Game 1. The Spurs remain without starting point guard Tony Parker, who suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the Rockets series. Popovich might have unearthed a new star in former D-League player Jonathan Simmons. He earned the first playoff start of his career Thursday and had 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and four assists while playing great defense on James Harden.
The Spurs won two of three vs. the Warriors this season. On Opening Night, San Antonio laid a 129-100 beatdown in Oakland in Durant’s Dubs debut. Leonard had 35 points. On March 11 in San Antonio, the Spurs won 107-85. That was a controversial Saturday night ABC game where both coaches rested their best players. Your starters that night: Matt Barnes, Kevan Looney, Zaza Pachulia, Shaun Livingston and Patrick McCaw for the Warriors, and Kyle Anderson, Danny Green, Patty Mills, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee for the Spurs. The Nets would beat those teams. On March 29 in San Antonio, the Warriors won 110-98, rallying from a 33-17 first-quarter deficit. Durant missed that game.
The Spurs had the NBA’s No. 1 defense in the regular season (100.9 points allowed per 100 possessions) and the Warriors the top offense (113.2 pp/100). It’s the fourth time in the past 30 years the top D & O have faced off in the postseason. The top offense has won two of the past three, most recently Miami over Indiana in the 2013 East Finals.
For my NBA pick, I’ll have to assume Leonard is 100 percent. The Warriors could be a bit rusty with all that time off, and they are 2-7 ATS in their past nine playing on three of more days of rest. While I expect the Dubs to win, you know Pops will have his guys ready.