The Spurs face the Golden State Warriors on a SEGABABA tonight after beating the Sacramento Kings last night in a terribly ugly game. It was their 12th win in as many games and 21st straight when Tiago Splitter scores in double figures
The Warriors come into tonight's matchup on a three-game winning streak, but will be without Andre Iguodala due to right knee tendonitis. This is the third game they will be without Iggy, and though they won their previous two, neither of them were against teams anybody would consider, um -- "good". Their first was a 103-89 demolishing of the Magic, and the other was a 115-110 win over the Bucks that was inexcusably close.
The game against the Bucks had Andrew Bogut returning after missing a game because of a tweaked ankle. The Warriors would have been perfectly happy easing the Australian back into some playing time, but Golden State has a knack for allowing lower-quality teams to hang around for too long forcing them to play their studs longer. Bogut ended up playing 27 minutes, but it didn't look like his ankle bothered him too much as he made a pretty nice alley-oop slam midway through the first quarter.
Coming into the season, this Golden State team was the heartthrob that was taped all over the inside of the NBA's locker. Stephen Curry became a certified superstar in last year's playoffs, while Klay Thompson showed he could end you if you paid too much attention to Curry. With both of them as the faces of the team, it's no surprise how many threes they have attempted this season together (980). Curry alone has attempted more three-pointers than Patty Mills and Danny Green combined, and Mills and Green lead the Spurs in three-point attempts.
That said, it's a bit surprising how both teams are fairing in specific areas that are normally the other team's M.O. While Curry and Thompson are getting all of the highlights, it's actually the Spurs, not the Warriors, who are leading the NBA in three-point percentage, shooting 40.1%. Golden State is shooting 37.6%, which is good for 6th in the league. San Antonio has five players shooting above 40% from deep: Mills, Marco Belinelli, Green, Matt Bonner, and Boris Diaw (no matter what Bill Simmons says or thinks).
But what may be an even quieter factor than the Spurs' efficient shooting from deep is the Warrior's ability to play defense. Coming into tonight's game, Golden State is ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 102.2 points per 100 possessions. This is one spot ahead of the Spurs, who allow 102.8 points per 100 possessions.
So with such an electric offense and surprisingly stingy defense, why are the league's "golden"-boys struggling to keep the 6th seed in the West? One factor is how they play at home. We can remember what it looked and sounded like in the playoffs last year when the Warriors got it going at Oracle, but it hasn't proved to be as effective so far this season. What was once an arena where it seemed impossible to get over the suffocating noise of the home crowd, is now a very winnable location for road teams, and even bad road teams at that. Whil they survived letting the Milwaukee Bucks to hang around on Thursday night, it didn't work out for the Warriors' favor last Friday when they took a nine-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers ... in San Francisco. With tonight's game being the tail end of a back-to-back for the best road team in the NBA, the Spurs will look to they capitalize on this trend.
Matchup to watch: Stephen Curry has a green light no matter where he is on the court or how many people are on in his face. He's earned it. Curry averages 23.5 points per game and attempts almost 8 threes per game. Many players can get a hot hand in the NBA, but for some reason when Steph gets hot it looks like he's going to physically burst into flames. It's terrifying. But players going against the Spurs this year have found it difficult to have a big game, and that will need to be the case tonight. Parker and Mills will most likely do most of the guarding against Curry, and I trust that they will contain him to a modest amount of points. If this happens, the Spurs should walk out of Oracle with their 13th straight win.
Key Bench Players
Warriors perspective can be found at Golden State of Mind.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 6
Line in Vegas: Opened at Spurs by 1. Now Warriors by 2 1/2.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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