Spurs Remain on Life Support Entering Game 3
The Warriors will cover and push Spurs to brink
All odds brought to you by Topbet.
They say a playoff series never starts until a home team loses, which should be good news for the San Antonio Spurs. The Golden State Warriors held serve at home through Games 1 and 2. Now, it’s their turn.
And yet, the outlook isn’t good.
Kawhi Leonard’s status for Game 3 remains up in the air after the ankle injury he suffered midway through the third quarter of the opening tilt. Don’t make bets under the assumption he’ll just play, because the Spurs aren’t like that. They will prioritize his future over everything else—even if that means essentially throwing this series.
Even if he does play, there’s no guarantee he’s 100 percent. He’s had almost a week to recover, but ankle injuries are fickle. He injured it in Game 5 against the Houston Rockets, then rolled it hard twice in Game 1 versus the Warriors, with the latter incident forcing him out of the action.
It’s no surprise Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich lit into Zaza Pachulia after Game 1 for his close-out on Leonard, or that he called out his team after Game 2 for playing with a lack of faith. A part of Pop knows this series is over. The Warriors smell blood in the water, and the Spurs see the writing on the wall.
Game 1 was their best chance. The Warriors hadn’t played in forever, they came out sluggish, and the Spurs lept out to a 26-point lead. Squander an advantage like that, and it’s hard to recover, no matter who’s on the court.
And make no mistake, if Leonard doesn’t play, the Spurs will be crushed. Their offense isn’t the same without him. It’s been that way all year—including the entirety of these playoffs.
With him on the court, they pump in 117.6 points per 100 possessions. That output plummets to 100.8 when he’s on the bench—a 16.8-point swing in the wrong direction.
LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t able to carry the offense on his own. His passes aren’t as meaningful when he can’t attack off the dribble and the Warriors are content defending him one-on-one in the post, and any shots he attempts increase in difficulty if Golden State decides to pay him extra attention.
Although the Spurs are better off overall without Tony Parker because of the defense they gain when he’s on the sidelines, they couldn’t afford to lose both him and Leonard. They don’t otherwise have enough incisive playmakers.
Here’s the scarier part: None of this, in the grand scheme of things, matters. Not even Leonard will save the Spurs. Stephen Curry is having the best postseason of his career, Kevin Durant has quietly been brilliant and you can make the case Draymond Green has been Golden State’s most important player.
Kawhi or not, we can’t pick the Spurs.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-6)
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