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Game preview: Short-handed, yet motivated, Warriors face the Spurs in San Antonio

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup
San Antonio Spurs logo
Golden State Warriors
61-6 (29-6 ROAD)
vs
San Antonio Spurs
58-10 (34-0 HOME)
Details
March 19, 2016
AT&T Center — San Antonio, Texas
5:30 p.m. PST
ABC | KNBR 680 AM
Blog Buddy: Pounding The Rock
Projected Starters
Stephen Curry G Tony Parker
Klay Thompson G Danny Green
Brandon Rush
F Kawhi Leonard
Harrison Barnes F LaMarcus Aldridge
Draymond Green C Tim Duncan
Key Injuries
Andrew Bogut (left big toe) - Doubtful
Festus Ezeli (left knee) - Out
Andre Iguodala (ankle) - Out
Kevon Looney (hip) - Out
None

★★★

Despite all the anticipation for the nationally televised game between two of the best regular season teams in NBA history, the Golden State Warriors would have a built-in excuse to lose to the San Antonio Spurs tonight.

After Andrew Bogut's injury against the Dallas Mavericks less than 24 hours ago, the Golden State Warriors will head into the AT&T Center tonight without the services of three key defensive rotation players in Bogut, Festus Ezeli, and Andre Iguodala. With the Warriors suddenly encountering a rash of injuries, it's no surprise that coach Steve Kerr joked after yesterday's win against the Mavericks that, "If I had any guts, I'd sit everybody."

The lingering question right now is how the Warriors will start against the Spurs assuming that Bogut is indeed out. The last time Bogut was out, the Warriors started Brandon Rush against a L.A. Clippers team without Blake Griffin. Against a Spurs frontline that features Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge, committing to small ball off the bat might be more difficult, especially without the help of Andre Iguodala to defend. But going small has been the secret weapon this season and they will pretty much have to stay small for much of the game without Bogut and Ezeli unless Marreese Speights has the game of his life (again) or Anderson Varejao fulfills the entirety of his promise as a hub in the Warriors' offense.

The Warriors have given us no reason to lack faith during this season, especially not on a nationally televised game of this magnitude. But winning this game would easily be their biggest feat of the season so far, both upending a favored and formidable opponent that is undefeated on their home turf while short-handed and interrupting a long history of disappointment in San Antonio.

And it's that same tired old line about being unable to beat the Spurs in San Antonio during the regular season that will probably serve as motivation for the Warriors despite the presence of an obvious excuse, according to Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group in an article he wrote yesterday (prior to Bogut being injured).

...against the top opponents, they always rise to the occasion. The Warriors are 18-0 against the 10 best records behind them, winning by an average of 12 points. On top of that, the Warriors are tired of hearing about not having won a regular-season game in San Antonio since 1997. They will really want to win this game. Which likely means they will win it.

In that sense, there's not much we'll really be able to learn from this game despite its obvious significance to basketball fans broadly. If the Warriors lose, we still won't know much about what this expected Western Conference Finals matchup looks like at full strength. If the Warriors win, it will mostly reinforce Thompson's point, something we should already know based on their body of work so far this season: this Warriors team has the will of a champion still out to prove that they aren't a fluke.

Yet the possibility that they might beat the odds in this situation, no matter how slim a possibility it is, makes this game worth watching.