The Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs will face off in a clash of titans in the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors are a emerging dynasty, seeking to challenge the stranglehold that has allowed Gregg Popovich’s men to be perennial contenders for the NBA crown.
Both teams have been a permanent fixture at the top of the Conference and have been on a collision course since the start of the season to meet with a place in the NBA Finals on the line.
Golden State delivered on the high expectations place on them at the start of the campaign following the arrival of Kevin Durant.
The Bay Area outfit did not better their outstanding 72-win term of the 2015-16 season, but were still relentless in their pursuit of the first seed by triumphing in 67 contests.
Steve Kerr’s side needed to be excellent as the Spurs put pressure on them from the off. San Antonio overcame the retirement of future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan to win 61 matches over the course of the campaign to finish narrowly off the Warriors’ pace to claim the second seed.
The two teams are two of the finest in the NBA and the series will surely be a classic that will be talked about for the years to come.
We’ll now break down both sides and assess their chances of advancing to the NBA Finals using the latest betting odds.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors ended last season in the most disappointing fashion, losing the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, allowing LeBron James and company to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
Kerr’s men responded to their loss by making the most significant addition of the off-season by beating off a host of teams to secure the signing of 2014 MVP Kevin Durant.
With the addition of Durant – not only did Golden State bolster their already-potent offense on the court, but also weaken their rivals the Oklahoma City Thunder – who almost bested them in the Western Conference Finals in the last campaign.
The Warriors were handed a challenge out of the gate with the arrival of San Antonio at Oracle Arena. Durant’s home bow was spoiled by a fine performance by Kawhi Leonard, driving the Spurs to a 129-100 victory to stun the hosts.
However, they quickly clicked into gear with a dominant run of form, with Durant moving seamlessly into the side. He along with Curry and Thompson racked up the points to leave their side at 29-5 at the turn of the year, although a defeat to the Cavaliers at home exposed some deficiencies.
The Warriors maintained their level of excellence in the second half of the term, despite losing Durant to a knee injury for 19 games. The club ensured they finished the season with the best record in the NBA courtesy of a 14-match winning run to take them into the playoffs with momentum.
In the first round of the post-season, the Portland Trail Blazers ran into a buzzsaw as they were completely outmatched by the Warriors, who eased to a 4-0 series victory as Curry ran riot in the final two matches.
The Utah Jazz provided more of a test in the Conference Semi-Finals. Quin Snyder’s men boasted a solid defense and made Golden State work hard for their points, but the Bay Area outfit still secured a whitewash victory to set up their clash with San Antonio.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs started the new campaign without the presence of Duncan for the first time in 20 years. The future Hall-of-Famer was a reassuring presence in the organisation even when his skills began to fade towards the end of his career.
Following their disappointing exit in the playoffs last term, the Spurs had a point to prove and were handed the opportunity against the Warriors on the opening day. Leonard put on a clinic to make a statement for San Antonio, dispelling any notion that they would struggle without Duncan.
One of the sides aiming to capitalise on instability in the Spurs’ line-up were the Houston Rockets, and Mike D’Antoni’s men produced a fine performance to defeat San Antonio at the AT&T Center.
However, Popovich’s men remained their consistent selves throughout the opening half of the term, with a rich vein of form in December leaving them 27-6 at the turn of the year.
A slight wobble in form towards the end of January may have interested the Rockets in their attempts to challenge for the Southwest division crown.
The solid form of Leonard along with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol delivered the club’s second 60-win campaign on the bounce and maintained their 20-year playoff streak.
In the first round of the post-season, the Spurs were handed a test in the form of the Memphis Grizzlies. They had split their four meetings during the regular term and the series appeared to be going in that direction after four matches, tied at 2-2. However, Leonard upped the ante to guide his side to victory.
The Rockets were next on the agenda and D’Antoni’s men came out firing with a brilliant display in the opener.
Popovich’s side picked themselves up off the deck and responded to secure their place in the Conference Finals, getting over the line even without the injured Leonard in game six as Aldridge inspired his team to glory.
This contest is truly a clash of titans, although their meetings in the post-season in the past have been sparse. Their last clash came in the 2012-13 season when Golden State were in the process of building a competitive unit, with the Spurs easing to a 4-2 victory in the Conference Semi-Finals.
The Warriors are now the emerging dynasty in the NBA, aiming for their third-straight appearance in the Finals. For 20 years San Antonio have been the dominant force in the Western Conference and will be determined to quash the Bay Area outfit’s rise.
Golden State are entering the match without head coach Kerr, which pushed Mike Brown into interim duties against the Jazz. They came through that series without difficulty, but the Spurs and the experience provided by Popovich is a different prospect all together.
The Spurs coach will throw everything he has to limiting the fearsome attack of Curry, Thompson and Durant and should he succeed – San Antonio have more than enough nous and quality to capitalise.
However, Curry and company have been in outstanding form, brushing aside to competent teams with relative ease in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Spurs have Leonard on their roster, but the quality boasted by the Warriors may even overwhelm the great Popovich and the rising star.
Therefore backing the Warriors at -769 with Sportsbet sportsbook to win the series is the bet to take, although it will be a fiercely-contested showdown.
The series should go down to the wire and a 4-3 scoreline in favour of the Bay Area outfit at +365 , while taking the seven-game option at +275 would also be a wise move.
Golden State Warriors To Beat San Antonio Spurs
14th May – 28th May 2017
Golden State Warriors To Beat San Antonio Spurs 4-3
14th May – 28th May 2017
Series To Be Decided In Seven Matches
14th May – 28th May 2017