Now it’s official. The Golden State Warriors put away the Denver Nuggets in six games to finish off the upset.
If you’re a San Antonio Spurs fan, you’re probably happy with that result. I think the Warriors are a better matchup for the Spurs than the Nuggets would have been. However, they’re clearly a very dangerous team, playing with a lot of momentum and confidence so the Spurs should not take them lightly.
The biggest test for the Spurs will be stepping up their perimeter defense, but that’s just one of the matchups to keep an eye on.
Stephen Curry vs. Kawhi Leonard (or others)
I assume Leonard will play a good chunk of minutes shadowing Curry. Leonard’s size and length will make it difficult for Curry to get the open jump shots he was enjoying against Denver.
The only worry I have is that Curry might just be a little quick for Kawhi, and we may see some of Danny Green or even Tony Parker on him. I trust in Coach Pop to make the adjustments when needed and out of those three guys, I’m sure one of them can step up and at least slow Curry down to the point where he’s not single handedly carrying the team like he did during a couple of third quarters against Denver.
Curry is the biggest threat Golden State brings to the table. The Spurs don’t need to lock him down completely to win. They don’t even need to hold him to single-digit points. They only need to make sure he doesn’t go crazy and they should have a good handle on the series.
The battle in the post
Andrew Bogut was a force in the paint during Game 6 against the Nuggets. He finished with 14 points on 7-10 shooting and 21, yes, 21 rebounds. His minutes were increased and he made the most of them.
We can’t be sure what David Lee is going to be capable of in this series, but he clearly intends on contributing what he can.
This matchup got a lot more intriguing just in the last couple of days. I thought the Spurs would be dealing with a tentative Bogut on a minutes restriction and then a couple of undersized post players in Carl Landry and Harrison Barnes.
Now the Spurs’ big guys will have to step up. The health of Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw is going to be important and Tim Duncan’s ability to control things in the post will be big.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. There’s no way Lee will be at 100%, at least for the start of the series, so Mark Jackson may go small. Will the Spurs counter with a smaller lineup as well, or will they force the Warriors to play some bigger guys who haven’t gotten as much playing time like Festus Ezeli?
These are a couple of the key battles to watch in the series, what other matchups will you be keeping an eye on?