If we are going to be totally honest with ourselves, Saturday’s night highly anticipated Golden State Warriors/San Antonio Spurs rematch should be looked at as — disappointing.
Here me out.
The contest itself was not a let down. The back and forth was incredible and it was further evidence as to why both of these teams are really in a class by itself. I’m prepared to separate these two teams from the other “also ran” 28 franchises in the NBA. Nope, Cleveland isn’t there right now. Oklahoma City can’t close a 4th quarter to save their life. The LA Clippers are too dysfunctional a franchise to be even taken seriously.
So why disappointing?
Well for starters I’m the last guy thats going to throw out excuses as to why a team wins and/or loses. Yet coming into this game I could already see the post game narratives prepared for this matchup. Golden State comes in on the back end of a back to back (they beat Dallas on Friday night) As of late the Warriors have started to get nicked up with injuries from key players. Andre Igoudala is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain, Andrew Bogut didn’t play and Festus Ezeli has been out awhile.
The Spurs however were actually relatively healthy on Saturday. No, I am not taking ANYTHING any from San Antonio’s performance as they displayed to me the best defensive performance I have seen all season from any ball club, harassing Steph Curry to a pedestrian 14 point night on 4-18 shooting and worse yet — 1-12 from beyond the arch. Clearly one of the worse — if not worst performances of the season for the regining MVP.
Klay Thompson didnt fare any better on 7-10 shooting for 15 points and a disappointing 1-7 from three point range. The Warriors as a team were never comfortable and most of that should absolutely be credited to Greg Popovich and that amazing San Antonio defense.
Yet the Golden State Warriors should be feeling very encouraged. Even after a loss.
The Spurs who have now won 44 straight games at the AT&T Center dating back to last season won by a measly eight points and were only able to pull away within the last two minutes of the game. Curry/Thompson played well below their normal contributions, aforementioned key players out due to injuries and yet San Antonio were stuck in a dog fight. Not saying that this game should have been a cake walk for the Spurs but given everything heading into this game and most of Golden State’s losses coming in double digits, it should’ve been just a little bit easier.
To me if there is anything that we learned Saturday night is that Golden State might in fact be impossible to beat four times in a seven game series. It took a perfect stars aligning for the Spurs to finally get a much needed win to place them just three game back in the Western Conference race for the #1 seed. Sure any given random night a team can get hot or catch the Warriors at the right time. For crying out loud within their seven losses, Golden State’s has succumbed to teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and the Detroit Pistons just for clarity. Teams who are either gearing for the lottery or barely scratching the postseason surface. We even saw the otherwise pathetic Los Angeles Lakers embarrass these same Warriors on national television not even two weekends ago.
Does it change the overall narrative?
I am still confident the Golden State Warriors will eclipse that elusive 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins. As of now they are currently a game ahead of the Chicago Bulls pace and ultimately I still expect Steve Kerr and company to finish the job and repeat as NBA Champions. You can call this my official guarantee or whatever but what I saw tonight was a team that while having a bad night versus a much worthy opponent, was a team that won’t die easy and I am still not convinced anyone can best them four times out of seven.
Show me in the conference Finals.