Golden State vs. San Antonio…this is the Western Conference Finals matchup that everybody envisioned in 2016. But the Oklahoma City Thunder ruined that last year by beating San Antonio in the semifinals.
Kevin Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors in the offseason, creating a super team in Golden State.
The question now is whether or not the Spurs can compete against this elite squad.
Let’s discuss whether this is possible below and look at which team you should bet on in Game 1 and beyond.
Western Conference Finals Playoff Series
No. 2 Spurs vs. No. 1 Warriors
Game 1 Betting Line: San Antonio +10, Golden State -10
Over/Under: 211 (-110)
Other Betting Lines: Check GTBets.eu
Game 1 @GSW: Sunday, May 14 at 3:30 pm on ABC
Game 2 @GSW: Tuesday, May 16 at 9 pm on ESPN
Game 3 @SAN: Saturday, May 20 at 9 pm on ESPN
Game 4 @SAN: Monday, May 22 at 9 pm on ESPN
Game 5 @GSW: Wednesday, May 24 at 9 pm on ESPN
Game 6 @SAN: Friday, May 26 at 9 pm on ESPN
Game 7 @GSW: Sunday, May 28 at 9 pm on ESPN
Golden State Warriors Conference Finals Preview
They breezed through the first two rounds, sweeping both the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz.
Golden State won against the Trail Blazers by an average of 18 PPG, and against Utah by 15 PPG.
Are these Warriors invincible? It sure seems so right now. But there are concerns.
First off, Steve Kerr won’t coach again in the playoffs due to back surgery complications. He may not even coach in the NBA again. This leaves assistant Mike Brown replacing him as interim coach.
Brown has a solid head coaching record, going 347-216 in the regular season and 47-36 in the playoffs. But blending superstar talent with bench specialists is a job that Kerr excelled at. Will there be any drop-off with Brown coaching?
Another question mark is how well Golden State will handle clutch situations that arise. While the’re still favored big time in this series, Golden State’s opponent isn’t a guard-heavy Portland team or young Jazz squad. It’s the San Antonio Spurs, who’ve been a dynasty since the late 1990s.
This means that some games will be close. And the Warriors have had difficulty figuring out if Steph Curry, Draymond Green, or Durant should handle the ball in these situations. Furthermore, Durant’s style of shooting over defenders in clutch situations clashes with what the Warriors do – running sets and getting the best-possible shot.
Beyond these concerns, Golden State has everything else going in their favor.
Their stars have obliterated the competition. Curry is playing as well as ever, averaging 27.1 PPG and 6.0 APG in the playoffs. Durant is a more-than-capable sidekick, scoring 23.3 PPG on 52.3% shooting. Green is playing a great all-around game, with 14.9 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 8.5 APG in the postseason.
Klay Thompson has struggled in the playoffs, scoring 16.1 PPG on 40.7% shooting. His teammate and friend, Zaza Pachulia, even ribbed Thompson about it after outscoring him in a playoff game. But the All-Star guard has shown in the past that he’s more than capable of heating up.
The cast of role players is adequate, with Andre Igoudala (7.6 PPG), JaVale McGee (7.4 PPG), Ian Clark (7.3 PPG), and Pachulia (5.8 PPG) leading the way. This bench isn’t as strong as what the team featured in 2015 and ’16. But then again, Golden State has more star power too.
Until proven otherwise, these Warriors are still the favorite to win the title.
Warriors ATS Record: Golden State is 5-3 against the spread in the playoffs, including 1-3 at home. Considering that the Warriors again have to cover a big home spread (-10), we’re leery to bet on them in Game 1.
San Antonio Spurs Conference Finals Preview
And what’s amazing is that this was without Kawhi Leonard, who’s nursing an ankle injury.
The blowout victory showed just how devastating San Antonio can be when you don’t bring your A-game. But the concern now is Leonard’s health for the Golden State series.
He’s supposed to play in Game 1. And Leonard needs to play and be 100% for San Antonio to have any chance against the Warriors. The MVP candidate has done it all for the Spurs, averaging 27.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.7 APG, and 1.73 SGP in the playoffs.
One thing that’ll be interesting is how San Antonio uses their size advantage. They feature Pau Gasol (7.1. PPG, 7.1 RPG) at center, and LaMarcus Aldridge (16.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG) at power forward. While these two are normally assets on the floor together, they struggled defensively against Houston’s three-point heavy attack.
Golden State will employ a similar style. They also have an amazing small ball unit, using Green (6’7″) at center. If Aldridge and Gasol do play heavy minutes together, they need to punish the Warriors’ small ball lineup inside.
Another thing to look for is if PG Patty Mills, SG Danny Green, and SG/SF Jonathan Simmons can keep up their strong play. They all stepped up against Houston, especially Simmons and his defense on James Harden. Are they up to a tougher challenge in guarding Curry, Thompson, and Durant?
One thing that’s decidedly in San Antonio’s favor is the coaching advantage. Gregg Popovich, winner of 5 championships, is one of the greatest coaches of all time. His adjustments were masterful for Game 6 against Houston. Popovich’s edge will be even bigger, with interim coach Mike Brown trying to run Kerr’s system.
Spurs ATS Record: San Antonio is 7-5 against the spread in the postseason, including 3-3 on the road. Given that the Spurs are a poised team with a .500 ATS record in the playoffs, we like them to cover +10.
Final Thoughts on Spurs vs Warriors Playoffs Betting
Many are surprised to see the spread size for Game 1. After all, San Antonio has a long history of success, and they won just 6 fewer games than Golden State in the regular season.
But then again, the Warriors are a perfect 8-0 in the postseason, with seven of these victories being by double digits. So it’s little wonder why bookmakers have the Dubs at -630 on the moneyline, and +10 on the spread.
However, as covered in the Warriors’ ATS section, they’ve only gone 1-3 ATS at Oracle Arena. And while we definitely see them winning this series, we can’t see Golden State covering in Game 1.
Series Prediction: Golden State wins series 4-2