The Golden State Warriors (30-39) will be playing the second game of their Texas trip Monday night when they take on the San Antonio Spurs (56-13) at the AT&T Center. The Spurs have literally owned the Warriors this season, defeating them three straight times. What should we expect tonight from this San Antonio team?
On offense, the Spurs score 103.4 points per game (sixth in the NBA) on 47.4% field goal shooting (fifth in the league). San Antonio gives teams fits because of their ability to shoot the ball from deep. Indeed, they lead the league with a scorching 39.9% three-point field goal shooting. As a result, opponents struggle to help off defenders when players such as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson come driving down the lane. The half-second of hesitation often leads to players getting easy attempts at the baskets.
Also, the Spurs torrid shooting from the perimeter affords Tim Duncan with something he has not often had throughout his career: single coverage. The Big Fundamental still sees a few double teams but not as many as once before.
When the Spurs face off against the Warriors though, an already potent offense essentially becomes an unstoppable one. In three head to head games against Golden State, San Antonio is averaging 114.0 points per game on 49.0% field goal shooting. The Spurs have been able to take advantage of the Warriors defense and basically get whatever they wish to have.
Gregg Poppovich’s team has been able to exploit the Dubs defense by scoring 44.7 points in the paint per game; the ability to get shots at the rim gives them an opportunity to also get fouled when they attack the basket. As a result, San Antonio manufactures 27.7 free throw attempts per game against the Warriors.
In addition, the Spurs have shot a blistering 38.7% from three-point range against the Warriors all the while avoiding miscues, turning the ball over only 10.3 times.
On defense, San Antonio surrenders 97.1 points per game (12th in the NBA) on 45.2% field goal shooting (12th in the league). The Spurs’ success on defense stems from their ability to limit shots at the basket and avoid fouls. On the season, the San Antonio Spurs yield 23.4 shots at the basket per game (14th in the association) and only commit 18.7 fouls per game (best in the NBA). Consequently, teams have to earn ever basket against their defense because they rarely allow freebies.
In three contests against the Warriors, the Spurs have allowed 98.0 points per game on 46.1% field goal shooting. San Antonio has been able to perfectly replicate their game plan against Golden State, holding them to 23.7 shots at the rim per game and 16.3 free throw attempts per game. Furthermore, the Spurs’ size has bothered the Dubs, who have only been able to convert 54.9% of their shots at the basket.
All signs point towards the Spurs sweeping the season series but the Warriors can do a few things differently to change that. For instance, the Dubs should consider the possibility of jumping the passing lanes to create turnovers and get out in transition. Granted, the Spurs are a terrific passing team, hence the Dubs would have to be extremely disciplined to do so.
Also, the Warriors can do a far better job of attacking the Spurs’ defense. San Antonio has some fairly good big men, however they are rarely looking to block shots; instead they would prefer to close out on teams, contest shots and force misses. This explains why they commit so few fouls. As a result, the Dubs need to attack the basket with confidence and not worry about getting their shots blocked. The change in attitude could help them convert with greater efficiency at the rim and also lead to a few foul shots if done with enough repetition.
San Antonio game notes: In his last five games, Tony Parker is averaging 21.6 points and 5.8 assists on 54.2% field goal shooting.
Golden State game notes: In his last 5 games, Dorell Wright is averaging 16.8 points and 2.0 steals on 43.1% field goal shooting and 40.0% three point field goal shooting.