Golden State at San Antonio
Time: 8:30 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: SAS -4.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors are still without Kevin Durant for a while. The Warriors are still winning. Golden State has reeled off eight victories in its past 10 games, including winning its past eight – and still maintains its 2.5 game lead on the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the West.
If the Spurs are to continue its pursuit of home court advantage throughout the playoffs, a win tonight is obviously imperative. The Spurs enter the game as 4.5 point favorites at home, where Gregg Popovich’s club has posted a 29-7 mark this season. While the Warriors are hot, this is a game the Spurs may want just a bit more, and San Antonio, too, has won its past five contests.
Whose winning streak will be snapped tonight? It is tough to bet against the Warriors, but Kawhi Leonard’s defensive talents bring an element to San Antonio few other teams have: When a shooter gets hot, Pop can simply put the “Klaw” on them to quickly quench those flames. Be it Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, Leonard will oscillate matchups throughout the game to keep the Warriors in check. And it is not as though the rest of the Spurs are poor defenders: San Antonio allows just 98.1 points per game (while managing to rack up 106.2 points per game itself).
The Spurs have a +8.2 point differential, trailing only tonight’s opponent, as the Warriors are good for a +11.6 differential.
Golden State has seemed to be on more of a mission since a minor losing skid that saw the Dubs improbably drop three-straight. There is enough talent in Golden State to withstand the loss of one superstar, one MVP, because the team still rosters another (Curry) and arguably the league’s quickest-releasing jumper in Thompson. Indeed, the Splash Brothers are once again proving to be the unflappable force that earned them their moniker. And that is not even to mention that Draymond Green, the jack of all trades, has been plenty active in exerting his influence on both ends of the court.
The Spurs will have a challenge with Green, given that LaMarcus Aldridge is hardly any stalwart defensively. San Antonio does get a nice injection of defense from Dewayne Dedmon, but Pop still limits his minutes in bringing the super-efficient Pau Gasol off the bench behind him. Gasol has been on a tear, and doing it in limited minutes, perhaps setting the stage for the next chapter of his career as a potential Sixth Man of the Year type of player for the Spurs.
No matter who the player is, Pop usually finds a way to bring out the absolute best, and that applies roster-wide to the Spurs, who actually have plenty of young talent like Jonathon Simmons and Dejounte Murray waiting in the wings, for the day when Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili decide to join Tim Duncan in retirement.
There was little question the Spurs would maintain its brilliance without Duncan, but how they have done so never fails to surprise in some respects. The Spurs are going to win 60-plus games again most likely, after losing a Hall of Famer whose leadership was still invaluable, not to mention is defensive presence even in the twilight years of his career.
Popovich is just that good of a coach, and his system, and the Spurs organization, has kept San Antonio atop the NBA—and the sports world—for over two decades.