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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors

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The Spurs take on this team you may have heard of from the Bay Area in California. They're called the Warriors. They've apparently had some success and appear to be a viable team made up of, what appears to be, good basketball players. I guess they're kind of a big deal.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs Golden State Warriors

Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Date: 1/25/16, Time: 9:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW/NBATV - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

After treating Kobe Bryant and the Lakers like a rented mule, the Spurs roll into Northern California to take on that juggernaut known as the Golden State Warriors.  This may be the most anticipated matchup of the year, I could be biased since I really only care about the Spurs and if they aren't involved my interest level drops several precipitous notches. But to be fair, this game will likely garner a ton of attention as the two best teams in the NBA go head to head for the first time of the 2015-16 season.

Recently there have been a slew of articles from media giving the Spurs some rather unusual love. You've got this article from the Economist that intimates that the Spurs might be better than the Warriors. Here is an article from Ohio.com where they claim the Spurs are a bigger threat to the Cavs than is Golden State. FiveThirtyEight.com talks here about how great the Spurs bench is and here about how Kawhi is almost as good as Larry Bird. HoopsHype goes on about how great the Spurs and Warriors are.

So based on all of that, it's safe to say that the Spurs are the best team in the Association right now despite the Warriors record, right? Maybe we should slow our roll a bit. Sure Golden State loss a couple of games recently, but let's look at what happens when they are focused and playing an elite NBA team. One need look no farther than the 132-98 destruction of Cleveland six days ago. They beat the Cavaliers in every aspect and they did it from the get-go.  When the Warriors are focused and playing with the chip on their shoulder, invented or not, they are the scariest team going.

I watched some of the Pacers and Warriors game last Friday night and what stood out to me is how much pressure their offense puts on the opposition's offense. The Pacers aren't exactly an elite offensive team, Basketball-Reference shows them at 19th in offensive rating. But they scored 110 points against Golden State and generally kept the Warriors from running away. Indiana was certainly pressing on offense and it showed.  The Pacers shot 17% from deep and 46% from the field. If they could have shot a respectable percentage that is probably a different outcome. But that's what the Warriors do. They have such a quick pace and are so efficient (42% 3-point shooting against the Pacers on 33 shots) your offense presses to keep pace and you end up getting out of what you do best.

If the Spurs want to have a chance tonight they'll need to make sure they're playing their slower pace, 21 spots slower than the Warriors, meanwhile being very efficient with their possessions. The good news is that San Antonio is generally very good, ranking 3rd in offensive efficiency, Golden State is first. The Spurs wing defense and defensive rebounding will be key, which will be a harder task, given the news that Tim Duncan will miss the game. Offensive rebounds fuel the already potent Warrior offense with extra possessions, which is not ideal (understatement of the year). With Duncan sitting, the task of keeping the Warriors off the glass falls to David West, who will likely slide into the starting lineup. As good as West is and has been, rebounding will need to be a team effort. Curry racked up 10 boards against the Pacers.

It will be interesting to see how Pop handles the Warriors going small. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are matchup issues in a normal lineup, but they become all the more difficult when Golden State can spread the floor and let Curry go to work without having to worry about the lane being clogged. I think LaMarcus Aldridge will be key to making Golden State pay for going small.  I also imagine that Boris Diaw will play a vital role if the Spurs are to slow down the Warriors "death ball" lineup. Diaw will be a very a interesting matchup against Golden State's Green. I don't think Green has faced anyone with Diaw's special set of talents.

These two teams are very very good. They play different styles and either team could dominate and this highly anticipated matchup could turn into a laugher. Both teams will have two days off prior to the game, so rest shouldn't be an issue. I fully anticipate Golden State to come out very focused and looking to make a statement that they are the best team and the Spurs are a distant second. Ultimately this is a regular season game and won't matter beyond the W or the L that goes on each team's record. But for us fans, it could be an epic matchup, one for the ages. Let's all hope that it lives up to the hype.

San Antonio Spurs (32-6)

Golden State Warriors (40-4)

January 25, 2016

Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

9:30 PM CST

TV: FSSW / NBATV

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Steph Curry

Danny Green

SG

Klay Thompson

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Harrison Barnes

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Draymond Green

David West

C

Andrew Bogut

Game prediction: Warriors by 8.

For the Warriors fans' perspective, visit Golden State Of Mind.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.