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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors

From the trifles of preseason to a regular-season opener in Oracle against the world-beating Warriors, life comes at you fast.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors

Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Date: 10/25/16, Time: 9:30 PM Spurs Time

The moment The Players' Tribune published Kevin Durant's free-agency announcement, the 2016-17 NBA season began sounding like a divine basketball apocalypse, with War, Famine, Death, Pestilence and, presumably, a fifth starter raining fireballs down on the rest of the league to a Killswitch Engage soundtrack. It was beautiful and scary and kinda lame all at the same time.

Spurs fans had to deal with the added lameness of being lumped into a 28-team pool whose chances of upsetting a Cavs-Warriors Finals reunion have widely been written off, booted aside with a Draymond Green swing of the leg because this is another joke about Draymond Green kicking other players in the groin.

Much of the Warriors' play through the preseason has indicated they'll be a foregone conclusion on most nights, limited only by their own caprices and occasional lulls in focus. People have knocked their depth and lack of rim protection, but neither matter enough when they're completely distorting defenses out of fear of the three ball.

Of course, those two foibles are all we've really got at the moment, so let's indulge in them as we look at ways that the Spurs can steal this game.

It's possible that Gasol won't be counted on all that much if these two teams meet in the playoffs, mostly due to his well-documented defensive limitations. I don't think Pop will worry about that too much in the first month of the season as he tries to get the big man assimilated.

That may further handicap the Spurs' chances tonight, as they'll also be without solid perimeter defender (and occasional three-point-shot-maker) Danny Green. Green's absence will hamstring San Antonio's ability to contest the Warriors around the arc, as well as their transition defense. He's long been leaned on against Durant and the Splash Brothers, and having him in street clothes will hurt.

I've penciled in Jonathon Simmons to take Green's place, although Kyle Anderson did get a few starts at the 2 during the preseason. I'm not sure either is a difference-maker, but I like what Simmons brings as a second guy who can attack the rim against a team that will be counting on Zaza Pachulia to anchor its D. **Update: Pop said Anderson will get the start tonight**

The Warriors aren't so well-rounded that some blueprints to try to take them down won't emerge as the months roll on. But this is Game 1 of the regular season, so all the Spurs can really do tonight is roll their best guys out there and see what happens. Success won't be measured by a W or an L, anyway -- remember that they lost their season opener last year and things turned out OK.

Playing to their strengths should mean slowing the game down and at least trying to win with size. They'll have the chance to play more uptempo in the future (especially with the fresh legs on the bench), but I don't see why you wouldn't look to limit the number of possessions tonight as much as possible. Kawhi Leonard and Pau Gasol should both have advantages against their defenders, and LaMarcus Aldridge got more comfortable going to work against Draymond Green with each matchup last season. A deliberate, slow-burning attack by the starters could keep things close enough for San Antonio's reserves to outperform Golden State's. If that happens, and San Antonio is able to knock down enough shots from distance, this game could be close.

Spurs fans shouldn't be expecting a win tonight -- the pieces are too new and the Warriors may be that good -- but we shouldn't be all that surprised if they pull one off, either.


San Antonio Spurs

(Record: 0-0)

Golden State Warriors

(Record: 0-0)

October 25, 2016

Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

9:30 PM CDT



Tony Parker


Stephen Curry

Kyle Anderson


Klay Thompson

Kawhi Leonard


Kevin Durant

LaMarcus Aldridge


Draymond Green

Pau Gasol


Zaza Pachulia

Vegas line: Warriors by 9.

Game prediction: Warriors by 8.

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

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

As always, PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. But if you're not able to log in here, you can try the Fanvana app which helps connect sports fans and was created by a fellow Spurs fan. Check out the free app on iOS or Android to discover other Spurs fans and join the live chatter for tonight's game. You can follow PtR's tweet stream directly on Fanvana as the game unfolds.