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Warriors vs Spurs Preview: Champs look to damage rival’s playoff hopes

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The injury-riddled Spurs head to Oakland to face a Warriors team flipping the switch over the final stretch of the season

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Game information

Who: Golden State Warriors (50-14) vs. San Antonio Spurs (37-27)

When: 7:30pm PST - Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

How to watch: TNT

How to listen: 95.7 The Game

Really Awesome Blog Buddy: Pounding The Rock

Injury Report

Warriors: David West (arm cyst), doubtful, Andre Iguodala (wrist), doubtful, Jordan Bell (ankle sprain), doubtful, Patrick McCaw (left wrist fracture), out.

Spurs: Rudy Gay (blown eardrum), probable, Paul Gasol (shoulder), out, Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps), out.

The Golden State Warriors have started off on track to complete Klay Thompson’s goal of going undefeated after the All-Star break. They have won six games in a row, and appear to be fiddling with that mysterious “switch” that all the great teams are supposed to have. When the switch is “on,” you get the frenetic 25-0 run they unleashed against the Brooklyn Nets last game. When the switch sleepily toggles to off, you get the lackadaisical play that leads to the 20-2 run that the Nets put on them in the same game.

Of course, you have to credit the other teams for making adjustments, and the Warriors made sure to put the nail in the coffin late. Still, Dub Nation is used to seeing games end in the third quarter. THERE’S A STANDARD TO UPHOLD, C’MON GUYS! #spoiled

The Spurs flicker with life

While Warriors fans quibble over their team not being dominant enough, Spurs fans are braving the day-to-day fluctuations that is the Western Conference seeds 3-through-10. The Spurs have lost seven out of their last ten games, and are clinging to the fifth seed, only 1.5 games out of third. More frighteningly, they are 2.5 games from the 9th seeded Clippers.

It’s an amazing tribute to Spurs coach Greg Popovich and the organization’s culture that this team is still battling for a top-three seed in the West with injuries ravaging the roster. Tony Parker missed the beginning of the season, Rudy Gay has missed major time, Lamarcus Aldridge is battling an ankle injury, and Pau Gasol just got Fredo Corleone’d by his brother Marc Gasol! #GodfatherIIMovieReference

Could this be the year that the Spurs miss the playoffs for the first time since the great Tim Duncan was drafted?

Not if their hero-superstar Kawhi Leonard has anything to say about it.

My goodness, is that The Klaw’s music?! And this is after about a week ago when Popovich said he would be “surprised” if Leonard came back this year. These Spurs always have something up their damned sleeves.

Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer shared his thoughts on this earth-shaking speculation:

If the Spurs drop into a low playoff spot, it could make the first round a hellscape for the Rockets or Warriors. Imagine the reactions of James Harden and Kevin Durant when they realize that when they dribble up the court, it’ll be with a healthy Kawhi Leonard defending them on the perimeter. That’s nightmare fuel.

Uh, I don’t know all that about a “hellscape” for the Warriors a.k.a. the Golden Empire, but it would certainly spice up the playoffs.

So you want a Gold-Blooded Prediction?

The last time these teams met in Oracle, the champs started off slow, before activating “Old Yeller Mode” and put those old dogs out of their misery in a fun 122-105 affair. We even saw Thompson get a legit POSTER over Davis Bertans!

The best part was the Dubs bench reacting with as much joy as the tantalized home crowd, taking true pleasure in this shocking body-bagging in Oracle.

I would expect nothing less than another dominant blow out against this limping former dynasty. But, with the stakes high in the playoff race, the Spurs need this game badly. What’s the point of Leonard coming back if they are out of the playoffs?

Then again, the Dubs need to flex on San Antonio in order to keep up in the race for the #1 seed with another Texas team, the Houston Rockets. With four Warriors bench players expected to miss this matchup, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the champ’s All-Star starters decides to go supernova.

Expect a well-played game, with the Spurs fighting hard initially, before being buried deep under the cold Splash.

Warriors 115, Spurs 101.