The Spurs and Warriors face off in the Western Conference Finals Sunday afternoon in Oracle Arena. This is the Warriors third straight WCF appearance meanwhile the Spurs have not made it this far since 2013 when they last won the NBA championship. The Warriors are currently undefeated in this year’s postseason sweeping both the Trailblazers and Jazz. Both series looked completely uncompetitive. The Spurs meanwhile, have endured 2 competitive series against the Grizzlies and Rockets where they prevailed in 6 games each series.
In the Spurs’ series versus the Rockets, they lost veteran guard Tony Parker for the postseason due to a quad injury in Game 2 and in Game 5, star forward Kawhi Leonard exited with a minor ankle injury that caused him to miss the remainder of that game. Leonard could have played in Game 6 of that series although the Spurs were thinking ahead of time and decided to sit him out. His absence did not matter and they dismantled the Rockets to clinch the series with the help of Lamarcus Aldridge stepping his game up with his best performance of this year’s playoffs. Going into Game 1 versus the Warriors, it has been confirmed that Leonard will be playing after 4 days worth of rest but it is still uncertain if he will actually be 100 percent by tip-off. Kawhi’s health and level of play is absolutely detrimental to the Spurs’ success this series. If Kawhi does not play his best basketball of his career, it’ll be easy to expect a short series and for the Warriors to continue to cruise their way to the Finals.
The Warriors have been dominating their way through the playoffs, improving their all-around play and resolving their regular season flaw of rebounding in effort to reach the finals and potentially become NBA champions again. During the season the Warriors ranked tenth in rebounding; this postseason, they rank first. They do hold a size disadvantage against the Spurs so they could lose the rebounding battle this series. Although, with the Warriors in complete command of the Western Conference it’s hard to go against them now after they have demonstrated their best ball yet throughout these playoffs. Player-wise, GSW is fully healthy although their head coach Steve Kerr is still on leave of absence while dealing with pain in his back and Mike Brown is still filling in for him. Steve attended his first home practice since going on leave on Saturday but there is still no timetable for his return to the sideline. Today, he will be watching the game from the locker room in Oracle Arena.
With the Warriors fully healthy and the Spurs ailing with a few injuries to their best players, it is safe to claim the Warriors as the victor of Game 1. With the Warriors home and with a week’s worth of rest versus a Spurs team that has been grinding through tough matchups these playoffs the game may not be as close as some would think by looking at the matchup on paper.