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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

The 4-3 Spurs return home face the Warriors on the first of a six-game homestand. With Leonard and Parker out, it’s the worst kind of Western Conference Finals rematch.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Going down the road feeling bad
Going down the road feeling bad
Going down the road feeling bad, hey hey hey, yeah
Don't wanna be treated this a way
(Grateful Dead version of American folk song)

The road was not kind to the Leonard-less, Parker-less Spurs. Three straight losses followed a blowout victory over the Heat, dragging the team’s perfect start down to 4-3. Before facing the champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday, the Spurs enjoyed a much-needed two-day break. Obviously, San Antonio needs Kawhi, but his return remains uncertain. Can the present configuration of the short-handed Spurs beat the visiting Warriors, and what improvements must the team make for that to happen?

San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

November 2nd, 2017 | 7:00 pm

Watch: TNT, Listen: WOAI

Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) out, Tony Parker (quadriceps) out, Joffrey Lauvergne (ankle) out?

Warriors injuries: None

The same Warriors, more or less

Unlike last season when they only visited the Spurs after having played the night before, the Warriors head into the Alamo City tonight on two days’ rest, having defeated the Clippers 141-113 in Los Angeles on Monday night to raise their record to 5-3. Despite this win, most voices question whether the two-time champions have played to their potential yet. Statistically, the Warriors remain the highest-scoring squad in the NBA, averaging 121 points, 6 points better than the past two seasons. However, on defense opponents currently average 114 points — 10 more than last season, lowering the defending champs’ differential to 7 points.

Unsurprisingly, Golden State’s roster changed very little from its 2016-17 championship configuration. After losing shooting guard Ian Clark and power forward James McAdoo to free agency, they signed shooting guard/small forward Nick Young, small forward Omri Casspi, power forward Chris Boucher and point guard Quinn Cook. Via trade the Warriors acquired the 38th overall pick in the 2017 draft, power forward Jordan Bell out of Oregon. So far, only Young’s 6 points and 12 minutes per game amount to any consistent contribution.

Curry, Durant and Thompson continue to dominant the Warriors scoring, accounting for almost 62% of the team’s points. Unlike last year’s even scoring average, Curry now throws in 28 points per game to Durant’s 25 though the latter shoots at a better clip. Thompson’s average is down slightly to 21 points per game but on fewer shots than last season. Draymond Green leads the team with 8 boards and 7 assists per game. While team rebounds and assists remain constant from last year, turnovers are up from 14.4 to 17.4 per.

No shot at redemption for SA

Without Leonard and Parker, viewing this game in the context of last season’s Western Conference Final series just doesn’t make sense. Besides, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Who else can step up?

This six-game home stand provides a challenge for the Spurs to improve upon their 43% field goal rate, which includes a 25th-in-the-league 33% from three. With Golden State second-to-last in the NBA in three-point percentage allowed, Thursday’s game would be an excellent time for San Antonio’s shooters to find their stroke. Obviously, players beyond LaMarcus Aldridge must step up their scoring for the Spurs to win. Whether that’s Danny Green, Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray, Patty Mills or perhaps Bryn Forbes, multiple scorers need to exceed 20 points. Defensively, San Antonio cannot allow transition buckets and must fight through the screens. In the WCF, Dejounte’s was knocked around on screens; it will be interesting to watch him now that he’s bulked up some.

Vegas prediction: Warriors by 6.5.

Game prediction: Spurs by 5.

For a Warriors fan’s perspective, visit Golden State of Mind

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

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