Western Conference Finals Preview
After an anti-climactic path to get here the Warriors are poised to make it back to the NBA Finals for a third straight year. San Antonio is here after multiple James Harden meltdowns in games five and six to give us a match-up we wanted to see last season. There is a lot to breakdown in this series with everything at stake. Without further ado, as Bruce Buffer would say “Let’s get ready to Rumble”.
An important storyline heading into the playoffs still is will the Warriors lose a game before heading to the NBA Finals? The undefeated train stops here due to the Spurs being good enough to win at least one game in the series. We start with the emergence of Jonathan Simmons, who completely dominated a tired James Harden late in game five and all of game six on the defensive end. Watch out for Simmons on Klay Thompson and Kawai Leonard on Kevin Durant. This is the Spurs best chance to combat the Warriors on the perimeter and make it hard for them to get off open shots from three. Expect Dejounte Murray a lot in this series weather it’s good or bad, this will be mainly to guard Steph Curry. Murray’s long frame and wingspan at the point guard position will give Curry a few fits in the series to the point where Golden State’s coaching staff will have to make a small adjustment after game one to combat Murray’s defense. Patty Mills will be good on the offensive end of the floor and can knock down important shots. Mills will stand no chance guarding Curry when Popovich will have no choice but to go to Mills in crunch time due to the season ending injury to Tony Parker.
San Antonio has big rebounding advantage vs Golden State and will have to enforce their will on the boards. The combination of La Marcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Dewayne Dedmon should be able to get offensive rebounds and prevent Golden State from getting them on their end of the floor. Draymond Green will be guarding Aldridge and the Spurs could use this to their advantage pulling Green away from the rim where he excels as one of the smartest defenders we have seen since Scottie Pippen. This will cause driving lanes opened up for Mills and Leonard to get to the basket and kick out for open threes where players like Danny Green can feast from deep. A big question that will be tough to tell as the series goes on is how small will the Spurs have to go to match Golden State? This will make David Lee unplayable just like in the Houston series and make Gasol become an afterthought. If Golden State plays Zaza and JaVale Magee more than this will play into San Antonio’s hands.
With this much shooting and defense mixed in how can Golden State lose this series? The answer is they won’t. San Antonio has a small chance to make this competitive, but It’s just a matter how many games will it take. Kawai will give Durant problems and Curry will eviscerate Mills. San Antonio has zero chance on defense if the Warriors put Aldridge or Gasol in pick-roll hell. Expect to see Curry and Durant to finally execute this to the point where Popovich will want to be in Europe on vacation. This play is literally unstoppable and it looks like Golden State is waiting to unleash it and pound the Spurs into submission. The Spurs can counter with defending the perimeter well but the Warriors passing ability to find an open shooter will reign supreme. Where did JaVale McGee come from to be this efficient and effective? When you have four all-stars around him and all you have him do is run from rim to rim sometimes block/alter shots then they have themselves a terrific center at a price that is hard to beat. Expect McGee to give 20 minutes a game where he impacts the game on both ends of the floor where the Spurs will have to put in Dedmon to have a chance vs McGee due to Gasol having zero shot blocking ability.
Two things we can count on is Golden State getting out in transition that will run the Spurs out of the gym while the home crowd goes bonkers. Combine this with the elite three-point shooting and shot selection the Warriors have and you can expect some games to go from being within shouting distance to an avalanche hitting San Antonio. Proceeded by the Popovich calling a timeout. It also gave his best impression of turning into a volcano. How fast will Head Coach Mike Brown (Filling in for Steve Kerr) go to the “Death lineup” and force San Antonio to play Aldridge at the center position. Despite San Antonio having superstar Kawai Leonard and the best coach of all-time. The Spurs will try and take Curry or Durant out of the series forcing the Warriors to give Draymond wide open looks that he will knock down with ease. This will be over in five games where the only loss will be game three. The Warriors will fulfill their destiny to get back to the finals and face either Cleveland or the winner of a potential epic game seven on Monday between the Celtics and Wizards.