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NBA Playoff Preview Series: Spurs Vs. Warriors

NBA Playoff Preview Series: Spurs Vs. Warriors
Throughout the playoffs, we’ll be doing series previews for each and every matchup. For more in-depth analysis, check out our Eastern and Western Conference Preview Articles, which covered the conferences at-large. Find all of our NBA playoff content here and on Twitter (@GamblingPodcast and @NBAZachB).

Series Prices and Game 1 Line

San Antonio Spurs +920 vs. Golden State Warriors -1580.

G1: SAS @ GSW (-8), O/U 210.5, +295/-370.

Regular Season H2H (3-1 GSW)

11/2/2017: Golden State (-8.5) 112, San Antonio 92. Under 220.

2/10/2018: San Antonio 105, Golden State (-10.5) 122. Over 218.5.

3/8/2018: San Antonio 107, Golden State (-10.5) 110. Under 222.5. Stephen Curry was injured in the first quarter.

3/19/2018: Golden State (+8) 75, San Antonio 89. Under 201. Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant all were out with injuries.

Facts and Figures

Golden State Warriors (#2)

  • 58-24 Overall. 33-48-1 ATS. 39-43 O/U.
  • Leading Scorer: Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, 26.4 PPG.
  • Best Stats: 50% FG (#1), 39% 3-PT (#1), 1.896 AST/TO (#1). #1 in a lot of things.
  • Worst Stats: 47.4 Opp. Pts in the Paint/Gm (#25), 29.1 Opp. Pts in 1Q/Gm (#30).
  • Notable Injuries: Stephen Curry, MCL – out for first round and potentially beyond.

San Antonio Spurs (#7)

  • 47-35 Overall. 41-38-3 ATS. 37-45 O/U.
  • Leading Scorer: Lamarcus Aldridge, 23 PPG.
  • Best Stats: 99.8 Opp. PPG (#1), 9.1 Opp. 3-PT/Gm (#3), 17.2 Fouls/Gm (#1).
  • Worst Stats: 102.7 PPG (#27), 8.5 3-PT/GM (#28).
  • Notable Injuries: Kawhi Leonard, Quad – out indefinitely.

Key Overall Matchup

Warriors 3-Point Shooting vs. San Antonio’s 3-Point Shooting Defense

This is a clash of strengths for two teams who have adjusted their approaches perfectly to the modern NBA. Golden State doesn’t take the most threes of anyone in the league anymore, but they are far and away the best at connecting when they do, shooting an absurd 39% as a group on the season. Even without Curry, their offensive system thrives on the gravity created by elite shooting. Golden State is at their best when the ball is zipping around the perimeter and finding the open shooter. Any lineup they throw on the floor will have 3-5 elite three-point shooters.

San Antonio, meanwhile, preaches defending the three-point line more than it ever has before. It started last year in the playoffs against the Houston Rockets, wherein Popovich engineered a defensive scheme that prioritizes closing out on shooters at the three-point arc and rim protection on drives. He is comfortable giving up shots in the midrange. As such, the Spurs are the fourth-best team in the NBA at defending the three-point line, with opponents shooting just 34.8%.

The three-point line has defined this matchup all year long:

  • Warriors 122, Spurs 92 – Warriors shoot 50% from three.
  • Warriors 122, Spurs 105 – Warriors shoot 44% from three.
  • Warriors 110, Spurs 107 – Warriors shoot 27% from three.
  • Warriors 75, Spurs 89 – Warriors shoot 16% from three (without Thompson, Durant, and Curry).

Clearly, when the Warriors are hitting their threes, the Spurs are in trouble. San Antonio must defend the three-point line if they want to hang in with the Warriors and keep games close.

Key Individual Matchup

Lamarcus Aldridge vs. Draymond Green.

The Spurs, especially without Kawhi Leonard, lean so heavily on Aldridge’s offense to carry them. He is, perhaps, the only healthy player on their roster who can “go get a bucket.” He’s had an incredible season thus far, going through somewhat of a renaissance as the lead guy on this Kawhi-less team. Averaging 23 PPG on a career-best 52% Effective Field Goal Pct (adjusting for three-pointers being more than two-pointers), Aldridge has been not just dominant but also determinist. In Spurs wins, he averages 25 PPG with a +15 Net Rating. In Spurs losses, that drops to 20 PPG and a surly -9.2 Net Rating. Aldridge swings back and forth with incredible variance and will need to play well in this series for the Spurs to have any chance at winning.

The task will be as tough as ever as he will be, in crunch-time, going up against Draymond Green, perhaps the best defender in the NBA. Aldridge has hung in just fine against Green in the past, using his tremendous patience and skill to perform steadily against Green’s one-step-ahead defense. Aldridge will have to win this matchup and be able to score the basketball consistently in order for San Antonio to stay in games. They just don’t have another way to replace his 20+ PPG. It’s got to come from him, and most of it will have to come against Draymond.

Meaningful Trends

San Antonio is 31-6 SU as a home favorite, yet just 2-2 SU as a home dog. The lines in San Antonio, with Curry out, should be close to a PK depending on how the first two games go.

San Antonio is 3-16 SU as an away dog.

Golden State is 15-23-1 ATS as a home favorite. They will be favored at home in every game throughout the playoffs.

Golden State is 18-5 SU after a loss. If they lose, I think they are an auto-play in the next game.

San Antonio wins if…

Aldridge averages 25+ PPG in the series and has a couple massive games; they defend the three-point line well and keep games in the 90s; they stretch it to a Game Seven where anything can happen.

Golden State wins if…

They shoot the basketball as well as they normally do; Quinn Cook is serviceable at the point; they stay focused defensively and get out in transition off missed shots and turnovers.

The Pick:

Warriors in 5. 

 

Zach is currently a college senior on the East Coast, and loves to write about sports as well as record his NBA podcast. An avid fan and notable consumer of sports content, the descent into the application of the handicapping lens to sports analysis was only inevitable.

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