Playoff Preview: San Antonio vs. Golden State

2. Golden State Warriors

Record: 58-24

Offense: No. 1

Defense: No. 9

Head Coach: Steve Kerr (47-15 playoff record)

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2017-18 Leaders (SUPERGLOOO season total in parentheses): Kevin Durant 30.38 (1471.29); Stephen Curry 38.08 (1293.76); Klay Thompson 21.48 (1121.17); Draymond Green 20.25 (964.83); Andre Iguodala 15.85 (535.60).

Prolific Playoff Performers (SUPERGLOOO career total in parentheses): Kevin Durant 27.53 (2493.88); Stephen Curry 30.88 (1822.91); Draymond Green 26.85 (1514.23); Andre Iguodala 17.10 (1315.99); David West 21.00 (1296.31); Klay Thompson 17.65 (1087.68); Shaun Livingston 15.40 (566.59).

The 5,000 Minute Rule: Stephen Curry 21,540 minutes with Warriors; Klay Thompson 17,674; Draymond Green 12,914; Andre Iguodala 9458; Shaun Livingston 5453.

STARTERS MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Klay Thompson  34.3  20.0  3.6  2.5 .440 3-point %
 F Kevin Durant  34.2  26.4  6.8  5.4  1.8 blocks per game
 F Draymond Green  32.7  11.0  7.6  7.3  1.4 steals per game
 C Zaza Pachulia  14.1  5.4  4.7  1.6  .567 2-point %
 G Quinn Cook  22.4  9.5  2.5  2.7  18 games started

Key: MPG minutes per game; PPG points per game; RPG rebounds per game; APG assists per game; SUPERGLOOO metric derived from Player Efficiency Rating, along with On and On-Off plus-minus ratings; * denotes injured player may miss playoff games.

KEY RESERVES MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Stephen Curry*  32.0  26.4  5.1  6.1  .675 true shooting %
 F Andre Iguodala*  25.3  6.0  3.8  3.3  0.8 steals per game
 G Nick Young  17.4  7.3  1.6  0.5  .377 3-point %
 G Patrick McCaw*  16.9  4.0  1.4  1.4  0.8 steals per game
 G Shaun Livingston  15.9  5.5  1.8  2.0  .509 2-point %
 C Jordan Bell  14.2  4.6  3.6  1.8  1.0 blocks per game
 C Kevon Looney  13.8  4.0  3.3  0.6  0.8 blocks per game
 C David West  13.7  6.8  3.3 1.9  1.0 blocks per game
 C JaVale McGee  9.5  4.8  2.6  0.5  0.9 blocks per game

7. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 47-35

Offense: No. 17

Defense: No. 4

Head Coach: Gregg Popovich (166-106 playoff record)

Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images

2017-18 SUPERGLOOO Leaders (season total in parentheses): LaMarcus Aldridge 28.75 (1502.79); Pau Gasol 19.43 (733.29); Kyle Anderson 17.73 (730.42); Dejounte Murray 19.90 (722.62); Patty Mills 12.43 (545.41).

Prolific Playoff Performers (career total in parentheses): Tony Parker 21.40 (3428.90); Manu Ginobili 25.90 (3220.23); Pau Gasol 23.63 (2330.51); Kawhi Leonard 26.40 (1599.40); Danny Green 17.03 (851.60); LaMarcus Aldridge 15.20 (711.55).

The 5,000 Minute Rule: Tony Parker 44,972 minutes with Spurs; Manu Ginobili 32,852; Danny Green 15,833; Kawhi Leonard 15,269; Patty Mills 9882; LaMarcus Aldridge 7978.

STARTERS MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 F LaMarcus Aldridge  33.5  23.1  8.5  2.0  1.2 blocks per game
 F Kyle Anderson  26.7  7.9  5.4  2.7  1.6 steals per game
 G Danny Green  25.6  8.6  3.6  1.6  1.1 blocks per game
 C Pau Gasol  23.5  10.1  8.0  3.1  1.0 blocks per game
 G Dejounte Murray  21.5  8.1  5.7  2.9  1.2 steals per game

Key: MPG minutes per game; PPG points per game; RPG rebounds per game; APG assists per game; SUPERGLOOO metric derived from Player Efficiency Rating, along with On and On-Off plus-minus ratings; * denotes injured player may miss playoff games.

KEY RESERVES MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Patty Mills  25.7  10.0  1.9  2.8  1.9 3-pointers per game
 F Rudy Gay  21.6  11.5  5.1  1.3  0.8 steals per game
 G Manu Ginobili  20.0  8.9  2.2  2.5  0.7 steals per game
 G Tony Parker  19.5  7.7  1.7  3.5  0.5 steals per game
 G Bryn Forbes  19.0  6.9  1.4  1.0  .390 3-point %
 F Davis Bertans  14.1  5.9  2.0  1.0  .588 2-point %
 C Joffrey Lauvergne  9.7  4.1  3.1  0.7  .530 2-point %
 G Brandon Paul  9.0  2.3  1.0  0.6  0.4 steals per game
 F Kawhi Leonard*  23.3  16.2  4.7  2.3  Played 9 games in 2017-18

Surefire All-NBA forward LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs’ army of elite role players should not be enough to hold off defending 2017 and 2015 NBA champion Golden State. But judging by how poorly the Warriors have been playing without their two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, who has been out with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, one never knows if an upset is at hand. Curry may or may not be ready to go this series (Grade 2 MCL sprains typically take two weeks to heal, and Curry now is entering Week 3), while the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard is less likely to return since sitting out most of the season with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps. In a sense, that gives San Antonio the advantage because the Spurs have grown accustomed to playing the 2017-18 season without Leonard, while Golden State is still struggling to replace Curry, playing .500 ball in both March and April in Curry’s absence (7-7 in March; 3-3 in April).

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Head coach Gregg Popovich already knows the weakness to Golden State’s Death Lineup is to punish the smalls with bigs and offensive rebounding a la Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Now with Curry possibly out, Golden State’s other vulnerability on its Death Star also becomes visible—a sore lack of decent backup guard play. Add Andre Iguodala and Patrick McCaw’s recent injuries to the mix, and one can see how the Spurs have a puncher’s chance in this series, with the Warriors forced to play system newbies like Quinn Cook and Nick Young in big roles. Typical Spurs advantages—coaching, playoff experience and familiarity—cannot be utilized as much in this series, since Golden State comes armed in those categories as well, replicating the Spurs’ playbook of winning as well as anyone else in the League has.

Mark Sobhani/NBAE/Getty Images

Golden State is not as strong as it has been in championship years past, with Curry missing 31 games in 2017-18, while fellow All-Star teammates Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have all seen a drop-off in SUPERGLOOO score of five points or more. Such is the life of perennial NBA champions who play 300 games in three seasons, while the rest of the conference plays dozens less. Eventually, the wear and tear catches up to you, as it has Golden State this season. Nevertheless, the 2017-18 Warriors were still strong enough to win 58 games, lead the NBA in three-point percentage (.391), two-point percentage (.560), free throw percentage (.815) and naturally true shooting percentage (.603), in addition to scoring (113.5 points per game) and assists (29.3 per game). Oh, and blocked shots too with 612 rejections (7.5 per game). Again, many of these credits were established with plus-minus superstar Curry in the lineup. How Thompson, Shaun Livingston and a wounded Andre Iguodala fare against top defenders like Danny Green and Dejounte Murray will have a lot to do with how Golden State maintains its supposed sizable edge as a No. 2-versus- No. 7 seed favorite.

If Pop can turn this series into a slow-down, pick-and-pop, post-up affair, the Spurs just may be able to take this matchup to a seven-game series, and then who knows? After all, it is tough to find a better set of centers and forwards than Aldridge, Gasol, Rudy Gay and Kyle Anderson. Then again, if Curry comes back in Game 2, the Warriors should be able to regain their championship edge once their back-to-back MVP regains healthy form.

WARRIORS IN 6.