After a run of dominance that will define an era of basketball, the Golden State Warriors have entered the 2019-2020 NBA season a shell of their former selves. Some of that, like the departure of Kevin Durant in free agency, isn’t their fault, while others are unfortunate injuries that have piled up. Klay Thompson is lost to for the season, while former 2-time MVP Steph Curry suffered a broken hand in their Wednesday night loss to the Suns and is out for the foreseeable future. Couple all of that with a roster devoid of the veteran leadership they enjoyed for much of their run and has been replaced by a young roster, and you have a team that is in firmly in the doghouse.
The Spurs have an opportunity to add another W in the win column tonight, even though they are on a SEGABABA. It’s important to rack up as many wins as possible in the early going and that’s usually by winning the games that you’re supposed to win. The Warriors have been awful on the defensive end of the court to this point, and though they still have Draymond Green and All Star guard D’Angelo Russell, their offense has not been much to write home about so far this season even with Curry. The Spurs just have to show a bit of consistency on both ends tonight to get out of the newly-opened Chase Center with a win in their pocket.
San Antonio Spurs (4-0) at Golden State Warriors (1-3)
November 1, 2019 | 9:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI
Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (load management — KNEE)
Warriors Injuries: Klay Thompson (knee — OUT), Stephen Curry (hand — OUT), Kevon Looney (hamstring — OUT), Jacob Evans III (hip — OUT), Alen Smailagic (ankle — DAY TO DAY)
What to watch out for
- Heads up with the D’Angelo Russell pick and roll game - Last season, D’Angelo Russell ran 11.4 pick and rolls and ran them a whopping 49.9% of the time. This year, that number is down to 6.5 and 33.8% of his possessions, but with the latest injury to Curry, expect head coach Steve Kerr to ride Russell by having him do what he did much of last season with the Brooklyn Nets:
The pick and roll, the bread and butter of so many offenses, could be a dangerous play all by itself as a 2-man game, but it is also able to be used as a tool to break an entire defense down. With players as comfortable and effective running it as guys like Russell and Draymond Green, the Spurs’ defense will be tested tonight by this basic, yet powerful weapon.
- Be aggressive and score on this defense - While their offense has taken what should have been an expected step back, the defense is something that has looked even worse. Their defense has arguably been the worst to start the season, sitting 30th out of 30 in defensive rating and failing to give up less than 120 points at all through 4 games. The Spurs, conversely, have the 4th best Offensive Rating in the league to start the season and have shown they can put up points when they’re clicking. Facing a team that has appeared and sounded demoralized, and has taken a massive step back on the defensive end should be a perfect opportunity for the Spurs to continue to be dominant on the offensive side of the ball.
- Does Derrick White start? - Because point guard Dejounte Murray will rest at least one game of every back to back set for the foreseeable future, it is a possibility that we will see last year’s starting point guard Derrick White get the starting nod. White, who has come off the bench every game this season, looked like he could be the Spurs best player at times when he scored a season-high 21 points against the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night, a performance that Paul Garcia of Project Spurs thought was significant:
Meanwhile Derrick White already has a 21-point game just 3 games into the season.— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) October 29, 2019
He had just 5 regular season 20-point games before in his career.
White played a key role in getting the Spurs into the playoffs last season and gained valuable experience over the summer when he joined Gregg Popovich with Team USA in China for the FIBA World Cup. After a slow start to the season, he seems to have broken out of his shell and adjusted a bit more to his bench role. Let’s see if Pop shakes him up again and plugs him into Dejounte’s spot tonight.
“But I guess just about everybody except Tim Duncan has been through it.”
Lee Dresie wrote a wonderful story for this site that I feel was inspired by this Green quote about the Warriors’ early season struggles and injury woes:
Draymond Green on the Warriors rebuild: “I guess just about everybody except Tim Duncan have been through it. But it sucks.” pic.twitter.com/MryZOPU9es— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 27, 2019
This, along with some of Green’s other comments about the state of the Warriors, was just another reminder of just how lucky we are to be fans of this team. While the Spurs continue to both rebuild and field a team that is competitive and fun to watch, a once proud champion looks in the beginning of this season like it will be sitting at home when the playoffs come around.
The lesson here? Never take the Spurs and what they’ve done the last 23 years for granted, even when they’re at their worst.
Vegas Line: Spurs -6, O/U 225
Prediction: Spurs by 9
For more on the the Warriors’ perspective, please visit Golden State of Mind.
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 if you don’t have a radio around.