There’s still time before March-April and the NBA playoffs, but the Golden State Warriors dominating and beating the San Antonio Spurs 110-99 felt more than just a win. It felt as if something finally changed in the Western conference hierarchy.
You don’t have to beat the best to become the best in the NBA. You just need to win enough and get hot at the right time. The Spurs, still the defending NBA champions, continue to struggle in this season, but everyone has seen them been cast aside as serious contenders before some incredible winning streak erupts. They’ve been to the last two NBA finals. Even with a defense that’s just not right and players that almost all of them are under performing, it’s just difficult to not think of them as a possible champion when this is all over.
But the loss to the Warriors didn’t help build up any confidence in anyone. The Spurs beat the Warriors by 13 points on the road when the two teams met back in November. It seems like a lot, maybe too much has changed. The Spurs couldn’t stop 3-pointer from leaking in. In fact, the 17 3-point field goals they allowed are the most ever under Gregg Popovich. Stephen Curry scored 25 points and was 4-of-8 from three point range; Klay Thompson scored 20 points and was 3-of-7 from long range.
They weren’t alone, and got plenty of help from Harrison Barnes, scoring 16 points. The Spurs themselves couldn’t get their famous ball movement to work, hitting only 31.6% of their 3-point shots, missing quite a few open looks. But the Warriors defense made it difficult. To move the ball, to get open, to play like champions in a game that’s about more than just this win. Popovich still has a lot of work to do before things are clicking again, if they ever will get to that point. The Warriors? They’re miles ahead, almost impossible to catch. If anyone looked like a champion during the game, it was them, not the ones hoping to repeat for a first time.