Entering the 2017 NBA season, the Warriors had made 2-straight NBA Finals appearances and landed Kevin Durant in the offseason, making them once again the team to beat. The Spurs, also a perennial playoff team, was looking to prove the doubters wrong and that they could, in fact, do it without future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. Duncan led them to 5 NBA Championships, the first in 1999 and the most recent in 2014. Duncan was one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history, and how can someone replace that?
Early on in the season, as expected, the Warriors established themselves as the top seed in The West with the best record in the NBA. With the Spurs chasing Golden State for a majority of the season, San Antonio was looking to overtake the top seed in the West. But, amidst a losing streak, the Warriors have been overtaken following their second loss to San Antonio. Since the Durant injury, Golden State can’t seem to get any momentum; probably due to depth (or lack thereof).
Without Kevin Durant, the Warriors have gone 2-5 in seven games. They’ve failed to reach 90 points in 3 of those games. For the season as a whole, Golden State is shooting only 35% from three on the road, a problem you wouldn’t expect this team to have. If problems like this persist, the Warriors won’t make the Finals for the third year.
The Spurs, on the other hand, have shown they can rely on their depth. Without Kawhi Leonard and LeMarcus Aldridge, they came back from 28 down to beat Sacramento in the largest comeback ever under Greg Poppovich. This team is on the opposite side of the spectrum from the Warriors. But cans they hold onto the seed?
The schedules don’t look good for the Spurs if they want the seed. Eleven of Golden States sixteen games are at home, and only 7 games pit the, against .500 or better teams. The Spurs play 10 of 17 games against .500 or better teams. Unlike last year, this race can be tight, who do you have getting the one seed? Is it important? How will Golden State react?
(Photo Credits: NBA)