Over the last four seasons, the Golden State Warriors (258-70) and San Antonio Spurs (245-83) have the league’s two best records and two of its three championships. But they haven’t faced each other in the playoffs in that time … until now.
When the Spurs won the title in 2014, the Warriors were knocked out by the Clippers in the first round. A year later, the Clippers beat the Spurs in the first round. Last year, the second-seeded Spurs were taken out in the conference semifinals by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now, we finally have the matchup we’ve been waiting for. The Warriors have reached the Conference Finals with ease, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz. The Spurs have needed 12 games to get through the first two rounds and lost a starter (Tony Parker) along the way.
San Antonio are the only team that had a winning record against the Warriors this season, but it’s difficult to read much into those results given the circumstances (see below). Really, this is like a brand-new matchup between what have been the two best teams in the league over the last seven months. It’s the league’s No 1 offense (Golden State) vs. the league’s No 1 defense (San Antonio).
After missing Game 6 in Houston with a sprained ankle on Thursday, Kawhi Leonard is expected to be back for Game 1 against the Warriors on Sunday (21:30 CAT LIVE on Kwesé Sports 1 and Kwesé Free Sports). The Warriors will have had five full days off since they last played.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Western Conference Finals, with links to dive in and explore more.
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Golden State Warriors (67-15)
First round: Beat Portland in four games.
Conf. semis: Beat Utah in four games.
Pace: 101.3 (3)
OffRtg: 114.4 (2)
DefRtg: 96.9 (1)
NetRtg: +17.4 (1)
Warriors playoff notes:
– Have trailed for just 12 total minutes (5 percent of the time) in their last five games.
– Have outscored their opponents by 92 points (11.5 per game) in the first quarter, 35 points in the third and 45 points in the fourth, but have been outscored by 40 points in the second quarter. They’ve lost the second quarter in six of their eight games.
– 18.6 percent of their possessions have been in transition, the highest rate in the playoffs.
– 18.0 drives per game are the fewest in the playoffs.
– Opponents have shot just 53.1 percent in the restricted area, the lowest opponent mark in the playoffs.
– Starting lineup has been the best defensive lineup among those that have played at least 50 minutes in the playoffs, allowing just 90.8 points per 100 possessions. The NetRtg of plus-34.9 points per 100 possessions is also the best mark among that group.
– Have outscored their opponents by 148 points with Curry on the floor. That’s the best raw plus-minus of the playoffs, followed by Draymond Green (plus-122) and Klay Thompson (plus-118). They also have the best aggregate bench NetRtg (plus-10.5 points per 100 possessions) in the postseason.
– Green has an effective field-goal percentage of 79.3 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, the second-best mark among players who have attempted at least 25, up from his mark of 47.3 percent in the regular season. He’s one of four players who have shot better than 50 percent on at least 25 3-point attempts in the playoffs.
– Curry and Durant have effective field-goal percentages of 58.1 percent and 57.6 percent, respectively, on pull-up jumpers. Those are the second- and third-best marks among players who have attempted at least 25 in the playoffs. The Spurs’ Tony Parker (60.9 percent) and Kawhi Leonard (55.6 percent) rank first and fourth.
– The Jazz shot 34.4 percent at the rim when Green was there to protect it. That has been the best rim-protection number among players who have defended at least five shots at the rim per game in the conference semis.
San Antonio Spurs (61-21)
First round: Beat Memphis in six games.
Conf. semis: Beat Houston in six games.
Pace: 92.7 (13)
OffRtg: 112.9 (3)
DefRtg: 106.1 (5)
NetRtg: +6.8 (3)
Spurs playoffs notes:
– Have outscored their opponents by 12 total points in the first, second and third quarters, and by 67 points in the fourth.
– Have taken 30.8 percent of their shots from the restricted area, up from 27.7 percent in the regular season. That’s the biggest increase from the regular season to the playoffs.
– Outscored the Rockets by 76 points in the paint, the biggest differential in the conference semifinals.
– LaMarcus Aldridge leads the postseason with 85 post-up possessions, 48 more than any other player. Among the 10 players with at least 20 post-up possessions, his 1.02 points scored per possession ranks second. Pau Gasol’s 0.57 points per possession ranks ninth.
– Aldridge has also attempted 12 more mid-range shots than any other player, but he has an effective field-goal percentage of just 31.7 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, the worst mark among players who have attempted at least 25 in the playoffs.
– Leonard leads the postseason with four clutch 3-pointers (on six attempts). He has shot 61.3 percent from the field (and 6-for-7 from 3-point range) in the fourth quarter, the best mark among players who have taken at least 25 fourth-quarter shots in the playoffs. Aldridge (53.8 percent) and Jonathan Simmons (52.9 percent) are two of the other five players who have shot better than 50 percent on at least 25 fourth-quarter shots.
– Manu Ginobili’s effective field-goal percentage of 35.7 percent is the worst among players who have taken at least 50 shots in the playoffs.
Season series: Spurs won 2-1 (1-1 at Golden State)
Oct. 25 @ GSW – Spurs 129, Warriors 100
Mar. 11 @ SAS – Spurs 107, Warriors 85
Mar. 29 @ SAS – Warriors 110, Spurs 98
GSW OffRtg: 100.7 (16th vs. SAS)
SAS OffRtg: 112.9 (2nd vs. GSW)
– The first meeting was the first game of the season for both teams. The second meeting was played without Curry, Thompson, Durant, Draymond Green and Iguodala for Golden State, and without Parker, Aldridge and Leonard for San Antonio. Durant also missed the third meeting, while Danny Green missed the first meeting.
– Only the Raptors scored more points per 100 possessions against the Warriors than the Spurs did this season, and only the Celtics held the Warriors to fewer points per 100 possessions than the Spurs did this season. The points differential of 39 points was the Warriors’ worst in a season series in the last four seasons.
– The Spurs grabbed 35.2 percent of available offensive rebounds, their highest mark against any opponent and the highest mark of any team against the Warriors. The Spurs’ 26 second-chance points in the season opener were the most allowed by the Warriors all season. Aldridge’s eight offensive rebounds in that game were tied for the most in a game against the Warriors and his five blocks in the third meeting were tied for the most blocks in the game against the Warriors.
– The Warriors averaged just 13.3 fastbreak points, their lowest mark against any opponent.
– Leonard’s 15 free-throws in the first meeting were the most he attempted in any game this season. He shot just 1-for-10 with Matt Barnes defending him this season, a mark which includes two games in which Barnes was playing for the Sacramento Kings. Leonard missed all eight of his 3-point attempts against the Warriors.
– David West (plus-4) was the only Warriors player with a positive plus-minus over the three games.
– Ian Clark’s 15 field goals in the second meeting were the most in a game against the Spurs this season.