OK Spurs, Here’s Your Chance
This is the thing that has loomed over the Golden State Warriors’ inevitable march to the championship from day one–the one thing that could really and truly make it not inevitable: a major injury,
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KD, meet a bad knee: no more soaring for you
Kevin Durant will be bye-bye for more than a month with his sprained and bruised knee, which would appear to leave the door open for quite a few of the other Western Conference teams. But let’s be serious: this is really all about the San Antonio Spurs now.
While the Rockets and Thunder have been getting a certain amount of play in everyone’s chatter this season, the only team that really looks like a threat against the Dubs is and has always been the Spurs. They’ve already got an edge against the Warriors so far this season–a memorable opening night blowout in Oakland–and now, with two more face-to-face meetings left on the schedule–both at home–San Antonio has the opening they need to catch and overtake the Warriors in the standings.
Yes, two wins head-to-head will not overcome a four-game deficit, but you have to believe the Warriors will drop at least two upcoming games that they otherwise would have won with Durant in the lineup.
The question then becomes, will having home-court advantage in the playoffs make a difference in a postseason series, when (presumably) the Dubs will be back at full strength?
I suspect the answer is–or at least can be–“Yes.” Last season’s edition of the Warriors barely escaped the OKC series even with home-court advantage. That, of course, played out with Durant on the other side of the floor, but a challenge by the Spurs, at full strength and clicking on their home hardwood, could definitely swing the other way come May.
The prediction: if the Spurs take advantage of this opportunity and seize the top seed away from the Warriors, I’ll expect to see San Antonio in the Finals. If the Warriors scratch and claw hard enough to hold on to Game 7 in their barn–and they’re still perfectly capable of doing so, even with one hand tied behind their collective back–then I’ll assume they rev it back up and get past the Spurs (or anyone else) to reach the ultimate series.