Hoping that their two wins over the San Antonio Spurs during the regular season mean it’s an equal playing field, the Golden State Warriors enter their first semifinals series in six years as the lowest seed remaining in the playoffs, basing their faith and excitement on the incredible shooting Stephen Curry has delivered so far, infecting the rest of his teammates in the belief this is a special season.
The Spurs didn’t finish with the best record in the Western conference, partially because of injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili late in the season. In the playoffs, against a broken shell of a team in the Los Angeles Lakers, it seemed almost too easy. The Spurs swept the Lakers, winning all four games in double digits, including by 31 and 24 in the two Staples Center games. It’s quite obvious that having a strong interior isn’t something that deters them from beating you.
Stephen Curry might not be the only weapon the Warriors have, but he’s the best of ’em, and the one that if taken out, there’s no way the Warriors can bounce back. Curry averaged 24.3 points and 9.3 assists during the series with the Nuggets, getting especially hot during the second half of games, and working especially well off screens, hitting 66.7% of his jump shots of screens. It does make him extremely difficult to defend, scoring 26 points per game in the season series with the Spurs.
However, San Antonio do have a couple of tricks up their sleeve in containing Curry. One of them is keeping him moving to his right. If taking the forward and left option for Curry, he’s 18.8% from the field against the Spurs in the regular season when trying to shoot while dribbling to his right. Corey Joseph, who played 14.3 minutes a game against the Lakers, might get more minutes vs the Warriors, limiting Curry to 1-6 from beyond the arc (small sample size, but that’s the best they’ve got) with Joseph guarding him.
The Warriors do have more weapons – Jarrett Jack has been remarkable, averaging 18.8 points per game in the playoffs. Thompson had a bit of a harder time (34.3% from beyond the arc) getting his shots down, but is a menace when left open. Carl Landry made the most of 21 minutes on the floor averaging 12.8 points per game.
In the end, it’s the Spurs series to lose. Because of Tony Parker looking healthy again, and knowing that Andrew Bogut can’t step out and help too much on the outside because he’ll have Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter to protect the rim from and keep him busy. The Spurs look healthy, and have a supporting crew, led by Kawhi Leonard, that should be more than the Warriors can handle.
Predictions – Spurs won’t have an easy time in Oakland when things hot quite quickly, but have enough firepower across the board to handle the running Warriors. Spurs in Six.