The Golden State Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets in the First Round of this year’s Playoffs. It was a highly entertaining matchup featuring tons of offensive highlights. The Warriors, a sixth seed beat the third seeded Nuggets in six games. In that series, Stephen Curry showed the rest of the country what the Bay Area has been raving about all year. Curry was unbelievable against the Nuggets, he’ll have to be that and more in the Second Round Matchup with the San Antonio Spurs. The Series tips off tonight at 9:30pm Eastern, find out what Golden State needs to do to advance past the Spurs.
San Antonio’s style of basketball is often called “boring” when it should be admired for what it is, beautiful basketball. If Golden State wishes to win this Series, it begins on this end of the floor. A very tall task looms ahead in slowing down the offense of the Spurs. San Antonio finished Fourth in the league in points scored per game, more importantly they finished First in the league in assists per game with 25.1. The reason the assists are more important, it gives an idea as to how difficult it is to slow down their offense. If the ball is moving that much, it is hard to key in on just one player. That balance on offense allowed the Spurs to shoot 49.1% from the floor in the First Round versus the Lakers. The Nuggets were a balanced team offensively as well, but they didn’t have the quality of shooters the Spurs have and they definitely didn’t have Tim Duncan in the post. The good news for Golden State is that Andrew Bogut is still healthy, while they lost David Lee it would have been more catastrophic had Bogut been out as well. Bogut averaged 10.3 rebounds per game in the first round, out side of Bogut the Warriors really rebounded by committee. The Warriors will require big minutes from Fetzus Ezeli, Carly Landry, and Draymond Green. It will be up to them to give the Warriors an advantage on the glass, specifically on the defensive glass. If there was ever a team the Warriors didn’t want to surrender multiple offensive possessions to, it would be the San Antonio Spurs. Bogut also did a decent job defending the rim with 2.3 blocks a game.
Tony Parker has been one of the best point guards in the NBA for a couple years now, while he may not dominate national headlines he will surely be a focal point for the Warriors. Parker lives in the paint, he does an excellent job finishing at the rim. Curry, Jarret Jack and company will have to do their best to keep him from penetrating. Parker doesn’t only drive to score, he is very aware of where his shooters are. The Warriors will have to do a good job running the Spurs off of the three point line, the Spurs had nine players shoot at least 35% or better from three point land in the regular season. That number dropped significantly in the first round, but they have players who are capable of knocking down open shots. It will be imperative that the Warriors close out in control and get their hands in the passing lanes.
Here’s the Keys for the Warriors on the defensive end:
- Rebound, Rebound, Rebound
- Close out on Shooters
- Protect the rim
- Limit Tony Parker’s forays into the Paint
- Limit Spurs to one shot per offensive possession
Offensively, the Warriors shouldn’t veer off their current track. They boast an explosive offensive attack spearheaded by their guards. Steph Curry has elevated his game to different levels this season, he stepped it up a notch in the regular season and even more in the First round versus the Nuggets. Curry isn’t doing this alone however, his teammates have stepped up to fill the void left by David Lee’s injury. Rookie Harrison Barnes averaged 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game against the Nuggets. Barnes is shot 45.7% from the field and 40.6% from beyond the arch. That level of play will be expected once again in this Series against the Spurs, he may be matched up with a very good player in second year forward Kawhi Leonard. Klay Thompson will need to raise his game in this series, he didn’t struggle from the floor but he wasn’t his normal self from deep. Thompson also struggled from the charity stripe, if Golden State wishes to win this series Mr. Thompson will have to bring his “A” game. Jarrett Jack did a great job this season in addition to last series, versus the Nuggets Jack provided veteran leadership and an ability to do whatever was needed. He did a great job filling the box score in round one, Jack averaged: 18.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7 assists. Jack’s ability to run a team allows Golden State to move Curry off ball where he is even more dangerous.
Stephen Curry, he will have a chance to impose his will on this series. Curry made the phrase “on fire” seem routine during his attack on the Nuggets. He assaulted Denver from beyond the arch by shooting 43.4% while being the focal point of their defense, there were moments when Curry was doing far more than just “feeling it.” As mentioned earlier, his ability to play off the ball gives Golden State a huge advantage being that he can’t be trapped when playing off the ball. As My Mind on Sports Team member Michael Sykes shared this weekend, the Warriors willingly take the ball out of his hands in instances. Versus the Nuggets, he did a great job setting up his teammates. His line in the first round: 24.3 points, 9.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds. The Warriors may need Curry to do even more to get past the Spurs.
Keys for Golden State on the Offensive End
- Move the ball
- Balanced scoring attack
- Knock down open shots
- Bigs must set GREAT screens
- Get Bogut going inside
The Warriors will be playing a veteran team in San Antonio, experience doesn’t always go in favor to the team that has been there before. There are instances where teams that don’t know any better or teams that are oblivious to the moment perform well. Golden State is essentially playing with “house” money, as a Sixth seed there is little to no pressure on them to win this series. Can they pull off the upset? Feel free to comment below!