October 25 in Oakland: The Spurs spoiled opening night for the Warriors, as well as Kevin Durant's debut with his new team, rolling to a 129-100 rout at Oracle Arena.
Stephen Curry scored 40 points and hit a tying 3-pointer with 1:48 remaining, and the Golden State Warriors rallied from way down after Kawhi Leonard was lost to an ankle injury to beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-111 on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. The short answer for how the Spurs' defense can stop the Warriors is ... they can't.
Even with Leonard, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Popovich said stopping the Warriors' offense is going to be tough.
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The Spurs are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Conference Finals games and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games playing on 2 days rest. Though this series could have been very interesting past year, Kevin Durant brings so much to the table in this series on both ends of the floor that it is hard to go against the Warriors in this one.
Trevor Ariza led Houston with 20 points on a night when MVP hopeful James Harden capped his stellar season by tying a season low with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting before fouling out with 3:15 left.
Leonard has spent his entire NBA career in San Antonio after originally being selected by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft out of San Diego State. Klay Thompson is the third double-digit scorer and Draymond Green is grabbing 9.1 rebounds.
With all their starters scoring in double figures, the Spurs shot better from the field, 53.1 percent against Houston's 28.6 percent.
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The team has some dependable all-rounders like Yuvraj Singh , Hardik Pandya , Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin . Meaning, Manish Pandey will play as a reserve player.
Kevin Durant doesn't care who is on the court for San Antonio, he knows that Popovich will have his group ready complete with a few surprises in the playbook. If the series is close, expect this five-man unit to get plenty of minutes especially in closing stretches during the fourth quarter.
The Warriors (67-15) and Spurs (61-21) finished the regular season with the best records in the National Basketball Association.
Collectively, they also made up for the absence of Tony Parker, their starting point guard, whose season ended when he ruptured his left quadriceps tendon earlier in the series.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Spurs are now 5-0 in games without Leonard and Parker this season. Patty Mills, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. They were not the first place team of the Western Conference, but they still had a good view.
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The series will be decided in the first two games, as the Spurs will need to try to split to be able to stay alive going back to San Antonio. "It was a long series, an exhausting series and now we play at noon, but we're here", Manu Ginobili said.