WHO: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
WHEN: Monday, March 19th; 6:30 p.m.
WATCH: ESPN, KENS, CSBA
RADIO: 95.7 The Game
Blog Buddy: Pounding the Rock
We’re running out of infirmary gowns and bedpans
Bodies have been dropping left and right for the Warriors with the team’s injury report starting to look more like a novel at this point.
The all-star trio of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson won’t suit up for another game as they continue to get back to full health before the playoffs arrive. And poor Omri Casspi — who’s had as much bad luck with ankle rolls this year as Curry — will miss the game as well.
But young Patrick McCaw, who hasn’t played since February 13 after injuring his wrist, has been upgraded to probable for the game which should be good news to the Warrior’s depleted backcourt and wing corps.
With Quinn Cook scoring at a Curry-esque level the past two games, McCaw might be feeling some pressure to steal back his claim to being “GSoM’s darling prospect” — a title he has seemed to have lost in a disappointing sophomore season.
But getting him back into game-shape should be the main priority as it’s unlikely for the team to drop him in favor of Cook for a playoff roster spot anyways.
The Spurs meanwhile continue to soldier on without their fearless leader Kawhi Leonard in one of the most interesting injury soap operas the league has seen in years.
Can Cook iron-chef against a top-tier defense?
Cook has been the top highlight — although kudos to Kevon Looney — for the Warriors since the injury bug began to ravage the team.
In the past two games, he has produced 53 points on a 87 TS% to go with an average of 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 steals.
Now the asterisk next to these numbers is that he put them up against the worst defenses in the league for teams who are also in the tank-race.
The Spurs meanwhile have the third best defense, and Dejounte Murray, who now starts for them, is a long and stingy defensive player who might prove to be a challenge for Cook.
Per NBA stats, the Spurs have ten lineup combinations that have played at least 30 minutes together and held opponents to less than 100 points per 100 possessions. Murray has been featured in six of them.
Should Cook prove capable against this formidable Spurs defense, the Warriors might have to start asking themselves if they should free up a playoff roster spot for him.
The Warriors vs potential seeding
Barring any incredible drop-off, the Warriors are essentially locked in at the number two seed for the playoffs, making most of these games non-essential.
The team has already been upfront about mainly focusing on getting healthy for their postseason run.
However with the Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, and New Orleans Pelicans all locked in a dead-heat for the 5-8 seeds, this game actually has some relevance as to whether or not the Warriors should come out with the intent to win.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Dubs would have to host the Spurs for the first round. And with Leonard on the cusp of returning, most of us would very much prefer to see a different opponent.
If we’re calling Ms. Cleo here, she’d might say the Warriors can use a deliberate loss to help drive the Spurs up towards the fifth seed — making them a potential opponent for the Houston Rockets in the second round.
On the other hand, the lying witch would probably just double-back and say a win over the Spurs would instead help edge them out of the playoffs altogether.
In reality though, there’s no way to dictate how a win or loss here will trickle down to the final standings at the season’s end. However it will be interesting to look back at this point and see how each of these games played into the final outcome.
Hopefully the stars align for a less brutal path to the NBA Finals than the past month has been for the Warriors.