GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (77-15)
at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (69-27)
Tip-off: Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Golden State -5.5, Total: 212.0
The Spurs will be hoping to get back into the series with a home victory over the Warriors in Game 3 on Saturday.
The Spurs led by as many as 25 points in Game 1 of this series, but SF Kawhi Leonard (Ankle) went down in that one and it completely changed the outcome. The Warriors mounted a furious rally in the second half, and ended up winning the game 113-111. Golden State then came out and demolished San Antonio 136-100 as a 13.5-point favorite at Oracle Arena in Game 2. Those two games showed exactly what Leonard means to the Spurs, and the superstar is listed as questionable for this contest on Saturday. Fortunately for both Leonard and the team, Saturday marks five days since Leonard last played. That means he has had time to rest, so he will definitely do everything he can to get back out there. If he doesn’t then it’s hard to imagine the Warriors losing, which is something they haven’t done since Apr. 10 anyway. One trend that favors Golden State in this game is the fact that the team is 9-1 ATS in road games off two or more consecutive home wins this season. The Warriors are, however, facing a Spurs team that is 40-19 ATS in home games after a blowout loss by 15 points or more since 1996.
The Warriors really put a beating on the Spurs in Game 2 of this series, and PG Stephen Curry (28.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.7 SPG; all player stats from postseason) continued his hot shooting for Golden State. Curry had 29 points in 31 minutes of action in Game 2, shooting 8-for-13 from the floor and 6-for-9 from the outside. He is now 13-for-25 from three in this series, and he seems to have put his postseason struggles from years past behind him. If he can keep playing the way he has then it’s tough to imagine anybody knocking out the Warriors. SF Kevin Durant (23.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG) has also been great for the Warriors. Durant had just 16 points in Game 2, but he was 6-for-10 from the floor and hit shots when called upon. If Leonard is able to play in Game 3 then things will be a bit tougher on Durant to score, though. He’d be wise to test Leonard’s ankle with a few drives early on. It wouldn’t hurt if he took on a facilitating role either. The Spurs have nobody that is capable of guarding Curry, so this might be a series that Golden State should rely on the two-time MVP. And as always, both PF Draymond Green (14.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 7.1 APG, 2.3 BPG, 2.0 SPG) and SG Klay Thompson (14.6 PPG, 1.2 SPG) are there to play their two-way brands of ball. Green has, however, been shooting the ball better than ever, as he is knocking down 47.9% of his threes in the playoffs.
The Spurs can still chip away at this series deficit, but they’re really going to need SF Kawhi Leonard (27.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.7 SPG) back on the floor in order to do that. For as much praise as the Spurs get for their ability to move the ball and balance out their offense, the team needs Leonard out there in order to compete with Golden State. He is the best offensive player on this team, as he has the ability to score from all over the floor and also get his teammates involved. Leonard also happens to be the best defensive player in the league, and San Antonio is missing his ability to lock up one of the Warriors’ four stars. Whether or not Leonard does play, PF LaMarcus Aldridge (17.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG) must raise his game. Aldridge had 28 points in Game 1 of this series, but he had just eight when he was the top option in Game 2. If he is not scoring around 20 then it’s hard to imagine the Spurs keeping this game close. Aldridge is here for his ability to put the ball in the basket, which is something he hasn’t done as well with the Spurs as he did with the Blazers.