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The Golden State Warriors stormed past the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their NBA playoff matchup, 113-92, in a game that never felt particularly close. The Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard as they have been for most of the season, and it showed. The Warriors won’t get Steph Curry back likely until the second round, but the rest of their stars have made it clear that they can live without him for now.
JaVale McGee scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half, with most of that production coming in the opening quarter. Head coach Steve Kerr made a bizarre decision to start McGee along with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, though that lineup had played 0 minutes together in their careers. It worked anyway.
Going with a long-armed lineup, the Spurs had trouble finding space to launch from deep. Even worse for them, Golden State trapped LaMarcus Aldridge on the catch and flustered his offensive routine. He had just 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. The team struggled to find answers without Leonard on the floor.
Meanwhile, Golden State rolled. Kevin Durant was the playmaker the Warriors needed without Curry on the floor. He had 24 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Thompson was on fire all game, shooting 11-of-13 from the floor for 27 points. Green had 12 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists as well.
For San Antonio to recover in Game 2, it’ll need to find ways to counter Kevon Looney’s, McGee’s and Green’s swarming defense on their offensive star, Aldridge. There aren’t enough pieces to get the job done without him at 110 percent.
No, I’m not talking about the Warriors losing ten of their last seventeen games – I’m talking about the recent game results against the Spurs. After sweeping past them in the playoffs last year, the Warriors handled the Spurs during the regular season as well, taking the season series 3-1. That lone loss came in a game that Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry all missed – and Draymond Green departed in the first half after taking a hard knee to the “pelvic area.”
Yeah, the Warriors are going to be playing the entire series without Steph Curry – in spite of recent wishful rumblings. But so too will the Spurs be playing without their best player. Kawhi Leonard didn’t just play in the four games against the Warriors – he hasn’t really played all season! He played in only nine games all year, and none since January, so no matter what, the Spurs are coming into this series just as hamstrung on paper as the Warriors are – perhaps even more so.
Get live playoff updates, news and analysis on Saturday at noon as the Warriors begin their postseason with Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle.
The Warriors (58-24) will look to flip the switch to playoff mode while hoping to continue their recent success against the Spurs (47-35), who were beaten three of four times by Golden State this season. San Antonio was swept by the Warriors in last year’s Western Conference Finals and will try to turn things around without its best player, Kawhi Leonard (right quad), who is not expected to play in the series.
San Antonio, which saw its 18-year streak of winning at least 50 regular-season games come to an end, comes into play Saturday having lost five of its last nine. The Spurs won’t have to deal with Stephen Curry (MCL strain), who hopes to get back on the court during the semifinals, should Golden State prevail.