The Golden State Warriors took a little while at the start of the season but finally found their championship form in a dominating win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. The San Antonio Spurs, who were swept in the Western Conference finals by the Warriors last spring and host the first rematch on Thursday, are not exactly at their best after dropping the last three games.
The Spurs won their first four games behind power forward LaMarcus Aldridge but the absence of Kawhi Leonard (quad) and Tony Parker (quad) was apparent as the team averaged 91.7 points in three losses. Leonard, who was knocked out of the Western Conference finals in Game 1 when he sprained an ankle after landing on the foot of Golden State center Zaza Pachulia, has yet to play this season and coach Gregg Popovich told reporters, “I don’t even ask. Seriously. When (the medical staff tells) me he’s ready then I’ll know he’s ready.” The Warriors had yet to find their highest gear while dropping three of their first seven games but finally put it all together in a 141-113 trouncing at the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. “We always have confidence going into every game that we’ll play our best,” Golden State star Stephen Curry told reporters after the win. “Obviously, so far this season, it hasn’t happened until tonight.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (5-3): Golden State looked to be turning things around by following losses in two of the first three games with a three-game winning streak, but a 26-turnover performance at home in a loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday brought them back down to earth. The Warriors, who committed at least 16 turnovers in each of their first seven games, cut that number down to 12 against the Clippers. “It’s kind of crazy to think about how we’ve played the first eight games,” Curry told reporters. “We have the highest-rated offensive efficiency, but our defense and our turnovers have been our Achilles’ heel thus far.”
ABOUT THE SPURS (4-3): San Antonio is searching for scorers to take some of the pressure off Aldridge and may have found one in rookie shooting guard Brandon Paul, who came off the bench on Monday and delivered a season-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 30 minutes. Paul, 26, did not get off the bench in the first two games and totaled 18 points in the next four before getting an extended run against the Celtics. Kyle Anderson is starting in Leonard’s spot at small forward and is averaging 7.9 points on 42.3 percent shooting after going 2-of-8 from the floor against Boston.
1. Curry is 8-of-11 from the free-throw line in the last two games after hitting all 50 of his attempts in the first six contests.
2. San Antonio SF Rudy Gay is averaging 8.7 points on 9-of-26 shooting over the last three games.
3. The Spurs took two of the three regular-season meetings in 2016-17, but Golden State earned a 110-98 win in its final trip to San Antonio on March 29.
PREDICTION: Warriors 112, Spurs 103