The San Antonio Spurs have won 12 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA this year. Golden State is riding a three-game winning streak of their own, and they are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Something has to give.
QR: The Warriors’ defense is only behind Indiana and Chicago, while their offense, 3-point bombs aside, sits 12th in the NBA. Is this a legitimate issue?
As for our offense, it is a concern, considering the cold stretches the Warriors sometimes endure. However, given that scoring typically drops in the playoffs, as does pace, I feel much better entering the playoffs with an elite-level defense and an offense that is superior to roughly 75% of the league than the other way around.
QR: Hollinger’s odds give Golden State a 6.5 percent chance at reaching the Finals. Can you envision a scenario where this happens? And how would it work?
JG: Common wisdom says that a Finals run is unlikely. It’s not necessarily that I think the Warriors don’t have the talent to win any seven-game series against a Western opponent — I somewhat subjectively think they do — but rather that I think their seeding isn’t favorable. The Warriors are already facing a tough first round series against either the Clippers (if they finish 6th), or the Rockets (if they finish 5th).
As Warriors fans found out last year, being a lower seed allows for a far smaller margin of error in terms of giving away playoff games, because you won’t have the benefit of home games at the end of the series. We found that out the hard way last year against your Spurs, when we were unable to close out the Game One upset. I’m not sure the Warriors can be thought of as legit Finals contenders unless they secure a top-four seed. History shows us that being an underdog is fun, but it rarely ever leads anywhere much further than the second round, at least in the NBA.
QR: Who is the most important player on the Warriors? Stephen Curry? Andrew Bogut? Andre Iguodala? I’m asking, because I’m not sure. (Though I’d lean towards Curry.)
But with that said, the Warriors’ rise to prominence is completely related to Stephen Curry. The Warriors would likely be about as good if another high-level point guard was leading the team, but it wouldn’t have that same Warriors-ness that this team (and last year’s team) has. In many ways, he is our Tim Duncan. A team lead by Parker and Ginobili would still be pretty good, and would be competitive in most games. But they wouldn’t be the Spurs; Timmy means that much. Steph has that sort of cache among Warriors fans. He’s our first bona fide franchise player; he makes this entire thing possible.
QR: Prediction for tonight’s game?