In what was being called the best regular season game of all-time, the Golden State Warriors blew out the San Antonio Spurs 120 to 90. While San Antonio didn’t have Tim Duncan, and they played at Oracle Arena, the home of the Warriors, it was still an embarrassing loss for San Antonio. These two teams will compete in the Western Conference Finals barring a major upset, and we can learn a few things from last night’s game.
Golden State is the Favorite
This was very clear last night. Golden State had the better record going into last night’s game, they have the better record coming out of last night’s game. They won convincingly.
In addition to winning the game, Golden State won every single quarter, including the 4th quarter where the teams emptied their benches.
Golden State’s entire team outplayed the Spurs, who are considered to be as successful as they’ve been because of their depth. Marreese Speights, Shaun Livingston, and Brandon Rush combined for 38 points off the bench, which as a whole outscored the Spurs’ bench 53-51. The Warriors’ starters blew out the Spurs’ starters 67-39.
Stephen Curry is Unguardable
Every other team in the NBA has already learned this (the hard way,) but San Antonio had a perimeter defender that won defensive player of the year last season in Kawhi Leonard, and he has been even better since winning the award.
The Spurs started off guarding Curry with an already good defender in Danny Green, but when Curry got off to a quick 13 point start before the end of the first quarter, the switch was made to put Leonard on Curry.
That switch had minimal impact. Curry finished the game with 37 points on 12/20 shooting, and he went 6/9 from three in only 28 minutes. If anyone in the NBA was supposed to be able to guard Curry, it was San Antonio, and they have already failed to do so one game into their match-up.
Not only are Green and Leonard considered to be elite defenders, But the Spurs are considered to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA if not the best. Curry and the Warriors have done the same thing and worse to other NBA teams, but the Spurs were supposed to be the one team that can stop them.
The Spurs Need LaMarcus Aldridge to be Effective
LaMarcus Aldridge was horrible last night. Aldridge had just five points and three rebounds on 2/9 shooting. He also had three turnovers. The Spurs really missed his effectiveness because he had the highest usage rate in the starting line-up with 21.6%, and he was failing to contribute despite his high usage.
It is only going to get harder for Aldridge to establish himself when Duncan comes back, as Aldridge will not only have less time with the ball and plays run for him, but sliding back down to power forward means defensive ace Draymond Green will guard him.
Aldridge wasn’t the only player who needed to step up and didn’t last night for the Spurs, but it is imperative for the Spurs to win that he plays better in a potential playoffs matchup with Golden State.
Neither Team was at Their Best Tonight
The preparation for this game must have been tireless, but both teams know better than to put too much on the result of this game. No one on San Antonio played more than 25 minutes and 24 seconds (Aldridge,) and no one on the Warriors played more than 28 minutes and and 21 seconds (Curry.)
The teams don’t want to give each other any edge in preparation by running all of their plays and hence giving the other the opportunity to prepare against them in the future.
Even the Warriors, who seemingly played so well, had many players that struggled with their shot. Klay Thompson was a modest 4/10, Draymond Green was only 3/8 (37.5%,) Harrison Barnes went 2/6 (33.3%,) and Leandro Barbosa and Speights off the bench combined to go 5/21 (23.8%.)
Both teams’ forms in the playoffs and in May are going to be better than the Janurary versions of themselves. It will also help the Spurs tremendously to have a rim protector and post scorer like Tim Duncan back in the line-up.
It will be very exciting to see these teams at their best in battle of the two best teams in not only the Western Conference, but the entire NBA.