Sat 13/05/2017 - 13:52 EDT

Warriors vs. Spurs Series Betting Preview

Warriors vs. Spurs Series Betting Preview

The Western Conference Finals matchup we’ve been waiting two years for is finally upon us: Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs. And now that it’s here, will this sparring live up to expectations? Can the Spurs hang with the Dubs? We talk you through it so you can bet with confidence.

Can the Spurs keep up with the Warriors in the West?

Golden State Warriors (-1060) vs. San Antonio Spurs (+680)

The Golden State Warriors were always going to be decided favorites for their series with the San Antonio Spurs. They have yet to lose a game in these playoffs, while the Spurs are coming off two taxing six-game sets.

Once San Antonio ousted the Houston Rockets, it was more a matter of how much Golden State would be favored by. Would the sportsbooks give the Spurs a chance? Would they provide some hint, any hint, that the Warriors would be vulnerable to the Spurs' unending relevance?

We have our answer.

And that answer is no.

Sportsbooks are not giving the Spurs even a remote hope. It doesn't matter that they won the season series 2-1, or that each of their two victories came by more than 20 points. The Warriors are indomitable. They have coasted to this point, with an 8-0 playoff record, and any real threat should be met with a flipped switch that draws them further away still from the competition.

It seems cruel, because the Spurs are amazing and, more importantly, adaptive. But these numbers aren't wrong. Looking at the big picture, San Antonio doesn't have a great opportunity to upend Golden State. 

It mostly comes back to style. The Spurs prefer to play at a calculated pace—a snail's speed. They emphasize half-court efficiency, seek to eradicate all transition threats from the other team and hope that by controlling the possession battle, they're putting themselves in position to beat anyone.

But the Warriors are no strangers to operating in the half-court. Limit their number of possessions, and you still have to worry about three-point barrages. Though the Spurs showed they could neutralize the Rockets' three-point onslaught by dropping back on pick-and-rolls and sticking to standstill shooters, the Warriors are a different beast. They have more shooters—better shooters—and run so much more off-ball action than Houston.

Perhaps the Spurs can expect to disrupt the Warriors' flow on occasion. To win the series, however, they must do it four times in seven tries. And that's not going to happen. And if, by some miracle, it does, they're still left to contend with the Warriors' half-court efficiency and general defensive suffocation.

Troubling still, it won't be as easy to dictate terms in this series. The Warriors, most likely, aren't going to counter the Spurs' big lineups with sizable ones of their own. They will run out Draymond Green as a center, perhaps more than usual, in hopes of coaxing the Spurs into blinking first.

dubs

As of now, it's not quite certain how head coach Gregg Popovich will respond to these moments. Kawhi Leonard, who is expected to play in Game 1 after missing San Antonio's series-clinching Game 6 win over Houston with an ankle injury, can play some 4, but the Spurs don't have a center capable of chasing around Green. 

Dewyane Dedmon is probably their best bet. Slot him at the 5, with Leonard at the 4, Danny Green at the 3, Jonathon Simmons at the 2 and Patty Mills or Dejounte Murray at point guard, and you have a nice mix of small-ball offense and defense. But will Popovich really chain LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, two of the team's three highest paid players, to the bench? We're about to find out.

The scary thing, though? The answer to that query, and every single other one, probably doesn't matter. It would be a genuine shock to see the Spurs win more than a game or two against these Warriors.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-1060) in six games

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