The Warriors didn’t have much time to celebrate their overtime victory over the Mavericks on Tuesday because they quickly had to turn their attention to a far more imposing (and just as crucial) challenge: facing the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night.
If there were to be one game this season in which the Dubs had almost no chance of winning, this would be the one. It’s hard to pick where to start, really.
For one, the Spurs haven’t lost since Feb. 26, a span of 18 games. One of those wins included an easy victory over the Warriors on March 22, a game the Spurs won by a comfortable nine-point cushion despite resting Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Then, add in Andrew Bogut and David Lee’s continued absences due to injury, and stopping Duncan becomes an even taller task. In short, Jermaine O’Neal and his fellow big men (Marreese Speights, Draymond Green) will have to pull off a miracle.
Even so, of all the teams to beat the odds and knock off the Spurs, the Warriors would have to be considered one of the favorites. While Golden State might not be the most talented team in the league, it does have the tendency to heat up quickly, especially in big games. As long as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are on the court, the Dubs theoretically have a shot to win any game they play.
Let’s take a look at the juggernaut the Warriors will be going up against on Wednesday night:
San Antonio Spurs (58-16) Projected Lineup:
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Tiago Splitter
Key Bench Players: Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw
Keys to a Warriors Victory:
Contain Duncan Inside
Unfortunately for the Warriors, there’s little chance of stopping Duncan without Bogut unless Jermaine O’Neal has a superhuman performance. Interestingly, Lee’s absence could bolster the defense a bit, but that upgrade isn’t enough to counteract the absence of the team’s best interior defender.
Expect Duncan to produce, but if Mark Jackson can work some magic and keep both Duncan and Tiago Splitter from putting up big numbers, the Warriors have a shot in this one.
Go After Tony Parker
While it can be debated just how good or bad Parker’s defense really is, the bottom line is that the Spurs point guard is far from an elite defender. One way the Dubs can give themselves a fighting chance in this game is to attack Parker—in other words, give Curry plenty of shots.
In the Warriors’ loss to the Spurs on March 22, Curry had a tough game (5-for-13), but that was more of an anomaly than the norm. Earlier in the season, Steph put up 30 points against the Spurs, and he also carved them up for 44 points in the playoffs last year. The Warriors lost both of those games by two points, but they wouldn’t have been close without Curry’s scoring touch.
In a game where nobody will give the Warriors much of a shot to even come close to a victory, Curry just might be the Warriors’ best shot, literally and figuratively.
5:30 PM PST, April 2, 2014
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: KNBR 680 AM