SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs are unprepared for the Golden State Warriors. It’s not that Gregg Popovich forgot how to coach and has been negligent in his duties leading up to their second-round series opener. It’s just that their first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers -- which feels like it ended around the time “The Sopranos” went off the air -- did nothing to simulate the challenges the Warriors present.
“It’s a totally different matchup than the Lakers series,” Danny Green said. “It’s kind of a 180. The Lakers were more of a big–man dominant, inside-presence type of team. These guys are more perimeter-oriented.”
The good news for the Spurs is that they’re in better shape in their backcourt than the frontline. Tony Parker, who was slowed by a sprained ankle in March, looked fully functional by the end of the Lakers series. He’ll join Danny Green and possibly Kawhi Leonard on the Steph Curry detail. That’s a variety of looks the Spurs can throw at Curry, from Parker’s quickness to Leonard’s length and athleticism. The question will be how much attention do they pay to Curry -- and do they send a double-team out on the perimeter?
Up front, Tiago Splitter is a game-time decision with a sprained ankle of his own, while Boris Diaw might make his return from surgery to remove a cyst on his spine that’s kept him out since early April.
Believe it or not, the Spurs made more three-pointers than the Warriors this season. That doesn’t mean they’re going to engage in a shooting contest with Golden State.
“I think it would be a bad idea to do that,” Parker said. “I’m improving shooting-wise, but I think Steph Curry is better than me.”
The Spurs will try to get some transition baskets and try to make the Warriors defend deep into the shot clock in half-court sets. They’ll also rely on their huge experience advantage. The Spurs have logged 490 playoff games between Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili alone. The Warriors use five players whose postseason experience consists of ... that Nuggets series that ended last week.
It’s about valuing possessions, making proper defensive rotations or maintaining calm when the pressure mounts.
Oh, and as loud as Golden State’s Oracle Arena has been lately, it pales in comparison to the home-court advantage enjoyed by the Spurs against the Warriors. The Spurs haven’t lost to the Warriors at home since Feb. 14, 1997. In other words, since before Duncan came into the NBA.