League-best Golden State Warriors and their closest threat and Western Conference rivals San Antonio Spurs meet for the first time this season in a game that could very well be a preview of the conference finals later this season.
Led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors will try protect their immaculate home record (20-0) and more importantly, create some distance off their West rivals who are currently just two games back in the team standings despite Golden State’s historically-good start.
Sans Tim Duncan, who is out for the game due to a sore knee—although it could just be Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich messing with the league again and playing his mind games against a rival squad– the Spurs will be led newborn superstar Kawhi Leonard and offseason prized acquisition LaMarcus Aldridge in the match-up pegged as one of the highly anticipated games of the season.
It was exactly a week ago when the Warriors played in another “game of the season” hyped match-up when Golden State visited LeBron James and the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, there was no “game” as Curry and the rest of the Warriors blasted “The King” and his Cavaliers to oblivion to the tune of 132-98. Even without Duncan, the Spurs are expected to provide a stiffer challenge Monday and fans are hopeful that they won’t see another blowout in this marquee match-up.
The Spurs are undefeated since a Christmas Day loss to Texas rivals Houston Rockets while the Warriors are working on another long winning streak after a couple of rare losses last week.
Curry leads the league in points per game (30.1), and stating the obvious, in three-point shots made (204) and three-point shots made per game (4.9).
Tony Parker and other Spurs guards are unlikely to stop the deadeye shooter and it will be interesting to see if Popovich will assign Leonard the task of guarding Curry. However, those are the kind of coaching moves the Spurs coach does deep in May and June and not in a regular season game.
Leonard, who leads his team in scoring (20.0 points per game), will most likely be facing off against another Warriors shooter in Thompson, who is the second-leading three-point shooter in the league (133 3FGs made so far this year) and averages 20.5 points per game.
Another interesting subplot in the Warriors-Spurs match-up is the Green vs. Aldridge forward match-up. Green (14.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocked shots per game) has the edge in versatility and toughness but Aldridge (15.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game) has the edge in heft and size down low.
A win by the Spurs (38-6) on Monday will put them just a game behind the Warriors (40-4) for the league’s best record and more importantly that coveted homecourt advantage all throughout the postseason.
The Warriors and Spurs meet again three times the rest of the regular season; March 19 and April 10 in San Antonio and April 7 in Golden State.
Watch the San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors live streaming via NBA League Pass.
Photo courtesy: knbr.com