2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Warriors (1) – Spurs (2)

2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Warriors (1) – Spurs (2)

Series Schedule:

Game 1: Sunday, 5/14 @ Golden State

Game 2: Tuesday, 5/16 @ Golden State

Game 3: Saturday, 5/20 @ San Antonio

Game 4: Monday, 5/22 @ San Antonio

Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, 5/24 @ Golden State

Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, 5/26 @ San Antonio

Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, 5/28 @ Golden State

Regular Season Series Results:

The San Antonio Spurs won the regular season battle by winning 2 out of 3 games against the Golden State Warriors.

Players To Watch:

San Antonio Spurs:

Kawhi LeonardLeonard will be ready to go for Game 1 despite missing the Game 6 blowout win in Houston. The good news for the Spurs is that he got an extra game to rest. The unfortunate part is that there's no telling how healthy his leg really is until he hits the court. Having to switch off between Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant is clearly not going to be the most fun task either. Leonard has solidified himself as one of the best players in the NBA. Now is his chance to showcase him closing the gap in NBA stardom.

LaMarcus Aldridge: The last time we saw Aldridge on the court, he looked like the Portland Aldridge. He torched the Houston Rockets for 34 points on 61 percent shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds. His mid-range is almost automatic when he gets some space, and he will be a tough guard for a smaller Draymond Green, no matter how good he is on the defensive end. If Aldridge can put enough pressure on Green defensively, it will hurt the Warriors on offense due to fatigue. Aldridge has to be a top-3 or 4 player in the series to give the Spurs a serious shot at winning.

Jonathon SimmonsThe 6'6" wing filled in nicely for Kawhi Leonard in Game 6 against Houston, and he now has three consecutive games where he's scored at least 12 points. Pop has been building up his minutes quickly, and he will likely be used a lot against Golden State. Don't forget, his season high came in the first game of the season when he scored 20 points at the Oracle Arena. He's fast, athletic and physical. The Warriors have problems with all three of those facets of the game.

Golden State Warriors: 

Stephen Curry: The Spurs will likely throw a mixture of Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard on Curry along with some Patty Mills and Jonathon Simmons. Yup, he will see an array of defenders try to contain him off the dribble and stop him from finding others. But with all the weapons around Curry, it will be hard to put two defenders on him, which just warrants trouble for any defense.

Kevin Durant: One of those weapons is a 7-footer who plays like a guard. Durant might be the hardest player in the league to defend. Fortunately, the Spurs have Kawhi Leonard who can at least try to contain him. Durant has had his fair share of good games against the Spurs dating back to his Thunder days. With the added defensive skill to his game, look for him to try to give "The Claw" a taste of his own medicine.

Mike Brown: I'm cheating. He's not a player, but Mike Brown is very important in this series. It's becoming more and more clear that Steve Kerr will not return for the remainder of the postseason. Brown has to assure the team will have enough momentum in this series to carry it over in the Finals. Golden State is the heavy favorite, and he has to make sure he comes up with the right game plan alongside Ron Adams to match up on the sidelines with the greatest coach ever, Gregg Popovich. 

Forget the first matchup between the Warriors and Spurs this season; it was the first game of the year. While the Spurs demolished the Dubs, it was Golden State's first time playing with Kevin Durant in an NBA game. The second matchup was a battle of the benches, and the Spurs are mostly the deeper team anyway. Disregard that game. The third matchup of the year was a dramatic battle: the Warriors on the back end of a back-to-back on the road in San Antonio taking on a tough Spurs team. San Antonio led by double digits throughout the first half of the game, and the Warriors looked like they didn't belong on the court.

That's until Steph Curry and Klay Thompson took matters into their own hands. The Warriors came back from behind and ended up winning the game without Kevin Durant. This was the game that counts. The Spurs played a junior varsity version of the Warriors in the Rockets last round, and that proved to be no match for them. The Warriors are a lot better than that Houston team, and they just dismantled the Utah Jazz. No disrespect to the Spurs, but the Warriors are just that much better. Healthy Kawhi Leonard or not, Golden State wins this in 5 games.