After avoiding an unprecedented three-game home losing streak with a narrow win over the Grizzlies, the Spurs hit the road for a three-game road trip. The good news: their trend of blowing fourth-quarter leads may not be an issue on their first stop. The bad news: that place is Oakland, where the 50-14 Warriors are often well ahead going into the final period of play.
Golden State enters the contest as winners of their last six and nine of their last ten. They remain the same unsolvable problem on offense — led by the all-world talents of Stephen Curry (26.8 points per game) and Kevin Durant (25.9) — and have begun to tighten their defense over the last month. To make matters worse: with the Rockets currently owning the top spot in the West, the Warriors have no reason to let up in the final month-or-so of the season. They’ve won both meetings against San Antonio this season, with one more still to go after tonight.
San Antonio Spurs (37-27) vs. Golden State Warriors (50-14)
March 8, 2018 | 9:30 pm
Watch: TNT; Listen: WOAI
Spurs injuries: Pau Gasol (shoulder) out, Kawhi Leonard (quad) out
Warriors injuries: Jordan Bell (ankle) DTD, Patrick McCaw (wrist) out
Yada yada yada… Here’s the new lineup
Do you really want to know that Pau Gasol may miss some games after colliding with his brother Marc? Or, that Rudy Gay injured his left ear drum as the result of a collision with the Grizzlies’ Ivan Rabb? Injuries continue to disrupt the Spurs’ hopes of developing any level of continuity, which will be a factor as they limp into this brutal final stretch of their season.
So, what’s with these fourth quarters?
Every team in every sport blows a lead now and then. But when it becomes a regular occurrence, particularly for a team known for finishing, questions arise. Conventional wisdom suggests that the lack of a superstar, i.e. Kawhi, and Aldridge as of late, renders late game situations problematic. Leonard, as we are painfully aware, has played only nine games and none in the final minutes. And while LaMarcus’ 4th quarter contributions paced the Spurs on both sides of the ball to several wins, very few victories this season fall into the “taking over the game” category. The problem as of late resembles the same issue that has plagued the Spurs all season: inconsistency. Almost every game features Jekyll and Hyde sequences wherein the team builds a lead only to quickly squander it by missing successive shoots, turning the ball over and giving up fast break points. Compared to the middle of 2nd quarter or beginning of the 3rd however, these late lapses leave the Spurs with no chance to recover.
The inability to produce a consistent rotation due to injuries, coupled with the inexperience of many key players, largely explains these glitches. And though Kawhi’s return obviously alleviates any number of concerns, the good news at present is that the capacity to overcome inconsistency exists within the present, active roster. In the last meeting between these teams, the Spurs played well early before dissolving into disarray. Thursday night look for the Spurs to seek consistency, regardless of who’s in the lineup.
Vegas prediction: Warriors by 11
Game prediction: Warriors by 13
For a Warriors fan’s perspective, visit: Golden State of Mind
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed