Despite having lost seven of their past eight games, the Golden State Warriors will enter Friday night's In-Season Tournament game against the San Antonio Spurs as clear favorites.
The Warriors might be in a major hole right now, but it pales in comparison to the Spurs who have lost each of their last 10 games by an average margin of 17 points. Not that San Antonio fans should be too concerned -- this is very much a young, rebuilding team riding the wave of all that comes with number one overall pick Victor Wembanyama. Yet despite their struggles, make no mistake that the Spurs, led by their French phenom, could provide a significant obstacle to the Warriors on Friday night.
The Golden State Warriors' distinct lack of size could be exploited by Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs at Chase Center on Friday.
Even outside the 7'4" Wembanyama, San Antonio have a huge starting lineup in the way of size. A 6'8" Jeremy Sochan starts at the point, 6'5" Devin Vassell at the two, 6'5" Keldon Johnson at the three, while Wembanyama and 6'11" Zach Collins round out the frontcourt.
The Warriors, on the other hand, are small by league standards, an area fans often bemoan. That factor could be even more exposed against the Spurs, with Golden State needing to rely on their sheer skill and veteran experience.
The Spurs' current numbers don't make for pretty reading -- 26th in defensive rating and 29th on the offensive end. Yet while they may be entering Chase Center with disastrous form, they do already know what it takes to beat the Warriors and other championship-aspiring teams on the road.
San Antonio beat Golden State in the teams' final preseason game last month, with Wembanyama leaving the crowd in awe with 19 points, four rebounds and an incredible five blocks in just over 20 minutes of play.
Every Spurs' starter finished with a plus-minus of at least +10 or better, while every Warrior starter was a -10 or worse. The contrast in size was well and truly apparent, particularly in the first-half where San Antonio built a 13-point lead.
The Spurs have already gone into Phoenix and won two games at Footprint Center earlier this season, the second of which saw Wembanyama finish with 38 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Nothing is coming easy for the Warriors right now, and you only imagine a masterful coach in Gregg Popovich is scheming up something to exploit the home team's weaknesses. Don't expect Golden State to have a walk in the park as they attempt to return to winning form.