The Golden State Warriors (44-26) are looking for a statement win over the top seeded San Antonio Spurs (52-16). It won’t come easy, however, as the Spurs are the hottest team in the league.
The Spurs, winners of 12 straight, have been on an absolute tear over the past month. They appear to be a team seeking revenge after last year’s Game 7 Finals loss to the Miami Heat. Part of their recent success has to do with their return to full strength. They caught an injury bug around the All-Star break, but didn’t let it affect their play as much as one might think. Now that they are fully healthy, they are ready to make another run at a title.
As for the Warriors, they have been playing superb ball themselves. Winners of three in a row and eight of their last 10, they find themselves in the 6th seed of the Western Conference just 1.5 games behind the Portand Trailblazers and three games behind the Houston Rockets. Golden State’s ultimate goal would be to finish this season out strong in attempt to nab that fourth seed from Houston, ultimately having home court advantage in at least the first round.
But the task at hand is much easier said than done. With just 12 regular season games remaining, the Warriors have to play five games against current playoff teams and four more games against teams that are hanging right around, looking to make a last second push. However, seven of the 12 remaining games are at home and that should be a positive spark for a Golden State team that is looking to make it’s first back-to-back playoff appearance in over two decades.
With that being said, the Warriors have lacked their usual consistency at home this season. They are still 23-11 overall at Oracle Arena, but they have seen some nail biters against teams that they should have easily dismantled. A win at home on national television against last year’s playoff killing San Antonio Spurs would be monumental for the Warriors heading into the final weeks of the regular season.
The matchup that everyone will be watching will be between All-Star point guards Stephen Curry and Tony Parker. Curry has carried the Warriors all season long and is coming off of a 31 point, 11 assist night against the Milwaukee Bucks. He has averaged 23.5 points, 8.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds so far this season.
Spurs guard Tony Parker has also been having another masterful season, averaging 17.6 points, 6.1 assists and shooting over 50 percent from the field. Parker has the Spurs right back into contention for another title despite all the doubters.
It will be a playoff-like atmosphere in Oakland on a March Madness Saturday night. Expect both teams to play extremely physical and to be prepared to battle until the final buzzer sounds. This game will come down to the point guard matchup and rebounding. Golden State can’t afford to give the veteran Spurs too many second chance points.
Warriors center Andrew Bogut has the ability to change the game both on the boards and defensively, as he showed the Spurs in last season’s playoffs. However, he will be without his defensive partner in crime Andre Iguodala, who will sit out due to right knee tendonitis.
The absence of Iguodala means that second year forward Harrison Barnes will get the start as he did 81 times last season. The acrobatic Barnes excelled in last season’s playoffs and the Warriors are hoping that some of his athletic fire will make its return on the biggest stage once again.
San Antonio is 2-0 against the Warriors this season, edging them in both games by just two points. The Spurs also remain as the only Western Conference foe that Golden State has yet to defeat. Saturday night’s contest is set to be an exhilarating must see showdown.
Commentary by Rich Peters
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