The playoff push continues to go deeper as the Golden State Warriors upset the Denver Nuggets in the first round. After the scary Game 6 win, the Warriors now face a tougher and more experienced San Antonio Spurs team.
The Spurs have not missed a playoff berth since the 1996-97 season. Their dominance in the NBA earned them four championships within the past two decades. Three of the Spurs’ four championships came from the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili.
The Spurs-Warriors series features two teams that are polar opposites. The conflicting style and characteristic will headline the second round of this year’s playoffs.
Battle of the Youngsters
Harrison Barnes had showcased his prolific scoring during the first round of the playoffs. His scoring average skyrocketed to 14.8 points per game (9.2 PPG during the regular season). Barnes’ performance against the Denver Nuggets may have put himself on the radar for the upcoming second round against the Spurs.
Opposing the former Tar-heel would be the Spurs’ defensive stopper Kawhi Leonard. Being a terrific one-on-one defender, Leonard’s size and athleticism would pose a great matchup against any wing player. His defensive playmaking and long arms may be a challenge for Barnes.
Against the Nuggets, Barnes saw a lot of plays where he was matched up with Andre Miller or Ty Lawson. Both scenarios gave him the size advantage for him to score. Now with the 6’7 forward potentially being matched up against him, a Leonard and Barnes battle would be an fascinating matchup between two young players.
Humble, quiet and fundamental are truly what defines Tim Duncan. Duncan’s calm and collective demeanor has never got him into a scuffle before. But what would happen when he meets somebody who is tough, physical and in your face?
The Aussie, Andrew Bogut, is fearless when battling in the post. Bogut prides himself on his clean and physical play. Sometimes his physicality can irk the opponents. In the previous round, Bogut got many of Denver’s big men out of character, which resulted in many technical fouls and a hole in the wall.
Duncan’s low-post game has been notorious throughout the NBA for his entire career. He is a model for many young centers around the league that want to develop an offense. On the other side, Bogut’s defense on the block is the main reason Golden State owner Joe Lacob acquired him. His presence alters and causes many missed baskets. A true low-post offense against defense battle it would be, both Duncan and Bogut are skilled at what they do.
Can the Warriors end the Streak?
Feb 14, 1997 was the last win for the Golden State Warriors at the AT&T center.
The Warriors have dropped 28-straight road wins to the Spurs, who have shown complete dominance over Golden State in recent years with two winning streaks peaking at 16 wins.
However, in this regular season, the series was tied with two wins a piece with both teams winning at home. A notable game from the series was the 107-101 overtime thriller that resulted in a Golden State win. Jarrett Jack came up huge for the dubs contributing with 30 points and 10 assists off the bench.
Although being an impressive home team, the Spurs should not be intimidating for the Warriors. In the previous round, Golden State was able to advance pass a team that only lost three times at home in the regular season. Winning against the Nuggets should supply them enough confidence in this series. The losing streak at San Antonio may be coming to an end in this year’s playoffs.