KSAT Ball Hog Blog: Spurs take on Warriors in West semis
Western Conference semifinals tip-off Monday night at AT&T Center
SAN ANTONIO - The NBA playoffs got pretty interesting while the Spurs patiently waited for their next opponent.
Several series got chippy, the Knicks actually won a series, Russell Westbrook got hurt on the most mundane of plays, the Heat probably vacationed in Cabo, and Joey Crawford went all Joey Crawford-like and ejected Chris Paul and Zach Randolph within minutes of the same game.
Needless to say, it's time for the Spurs to rejoin the fun and standing in their way in the West semis are those pesky, dangerous, upstart...(What other adjective can I think of) Golden State Warriors.
I've had my eye on the Warriors all season, but have to admit, I was rather surprised with the way they handled Denver especially after David Lee went down for the series.
The Warriors small ball lineup of Steph Curry, Jarret Jack, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson destroyed the Nuggets, and whoa, did Andrew Bogut actually become viable again?
The Warriors small ball lineup and transition game provides some issues for the Spurs, and will be nothing like the D-leaguers the Lakers threw out there, but San Antonio has proven they can play several styles and be successful.
San Antonio can get up and down or grind it out and clamp down defensively.
The obvious guy to watch for GSW is Steph Curry. Curry became a bad dude in the first round after Lee went down (24 PPG, 9 APG, 4 RPG, 44% 3-pt FGP).
Denver began to rattle Curry as the series went along and I expect the Spurs to continue the physical play.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a mix of Tony Parker, Danny Green, Gary Neal and Cory Joseph guard Curry.
The aforementioned Jarret Jack and Klay Thompson give Golden State nice scoring options while Barnes, Draymond Green and Carl Landry were solid in the absence of D-Lee.
However, as good as Golden State can be offensively, they can be just as bad on defense, and this is where the Spurs should take over the series.
Golden State ranked 19th in defense this year and San Antonio's screen and roll offense should have no problem getting good looks.
The Lakers guards were the perfect remedy for what ailed Tony Parker. TP looked like his mid-season self again averaging 22 PPG and 6 APG in less then 30 minutes per game against the immortal Andrew Goudelock (did I even spell that right).
I assume Jack gets the assignment on Parker while Curry defends the shooting guard. It's a tough challenge for TP, but he looks healthy and ready to go.
While the backcourt battle is somewhat of a wash, the small forward position poses a nice advantage for San Antonio.
No one on Golden State's roster matches up well with Kawhi Leonard or Manu. Barnes had a very good first round series, but Leonard's physical play and Ginobili's overall skills should make it difficult for the Warriors rookie.
In the paint, Tim Duncan should continue to have his way with the Warriors bigs. TD manhandled Golden State inside this season averaging a vintage Duncan-esque 22 PPG, 12 RPG and 4 BPG in three regular season games against Golden State, and that was with a healthy David Lee in the lineup.
Bogut has looked better, but the Warriors will have their hands full. Dare I say we have a Festus Ezeli sighting to just rack up fouls against Timmy-D? OK, so I just wanted to throw a Festus Ezeli reference in this article.
By now, I think you know which way I'm going. Steph Curry will get his points, but as long as the Spurs make life difficult for him and keep the other guys from having 20 to 30 point games they should advance.
The crowd at Oracle Arena in Oakland will certainly be raucous for Games 3 and 4. Curry will probably shoot the lights out for a few games, but bottom line is the Spurs have seen an upstart team like this many times before and nothing that comes their way is new. It's all new to the Warriors at this point.
Golden State has a very bright future and they are fun team to watch especially Curry, but their season should end in this round. Spurs in 5.
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