The Warriors will be without Stephen Curry, who is recovering after knee surgery, and that’s an obvious blow to their offense. But the Spurs have bigger problems, having been without Kawhi Leonard for the bulk of the year as he has pulled himself from the floor with a mysterious quadriceps injury. LaMarcus Aldridge has been outstanding in his absence, but the Spurs just don’t have a lot of options beyond him.
Golden State is much better set up to handle the absence of Curry than the Spurs are to handle the absence of Leonard. It is remarkable, in fact, that a team so awkwardly patched together as the Spurs — with 24 different starting lineups — could have won 47 games. That’s a testament to coach Gregg Popovich, who will face one of his proteges, Steve Kerr, in this series.
NBA playoffs 2018: Warriors vs. Spurs
The key player
With Curry out, it’s up to Kevin Durant to play like a superstar. He quietly put together a season every bit as stellar as last year, averaging 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists, while making 51.6 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from the 3-point line (he shot 88.9 percent from the foul line, leaving him five free throws short of the coveted 50-40-90 threshold).
Durant will face different combinations of Danny Green, Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gay, and he should find ways to exploit anyone San Antonio has to offer.
The big number
109.9. In their last 10 games of the season, the Warriors’ defense unraveled, allowing 109.9 points per 100 possessions, which ranked 28th in the league in that span. Granted, the Warriors were not always putting forth their best players in the final games, but it’s part of a disturbing trend for Kerr’s team — the Warriors dropped to ninth in the NBA in defensive efficiency this season, and were 14th after the All-Star break.
The Warriors had been in the top four in defensive efficiency for the previous four seasons.
The Curry injury makes the Warriors vulnerable in the postseason, but the Spurs just do not have the firepower to take advantage. We might wind up with some interesting Kerr-Popovich political discussions, but probably not an interesting series.
Warriors win series 4-1