Western Conference Finals: Can Anyone Beat Golden State?

The Golden State Warriors have been nothing short of golden this year, but my hatred towards the team and towards all its players not named Steph Curry, JaVale McGee, or Kevin Durant, lives on. Golden State has gone 8-0 so far to start the playoffs, and play a blue-collared juggernaut team in the San Antonio Spurs, who are coming off back-to-back 6 game series. Here is what I believe will happen in order for the Spurs to be able to beat Golden State, and why it may or may not happen.

How San Antonio Can Beat Golden State

Start Jonathan Simmons to Limit Steph Curry

The Spurs started Jonathan Simmons in Game 6 of their last series against the Rockets to limit James Harden. Simmons did just that, and also added 18 points in 31 minutes of play. Simmons is a 6’6” rookie out of Houston who can score, defend, and handle the ball, and last year, he paid $150 to just to try out for the D-League. Now, he is starting in the NBA Playoffs, and against a team with so much offensive firepower like Golden State, that should only continue. Steph Curry, however, has been shooting just under 47% these playoffs, and has been a matchup nightmare these playoffs, as he is averaging 3 turnovers a game, compared to Harden averaging 5.4, so Simmons will have his hands full.

Note: James Harden went 1-5 and had 6 turnovers when guarded by Simmons in Games 5 and 6. 

Keep The Warriors Fans Out of the Game

Oracle Arena, the home of the Warriors, is one of the loudest stadiums in the entire NBA, and probably the hardest to play in. San Antonio, led by head coach Greg Popovich, figured out a way to move the ball against the Rockets in the last series to keep the crowd out of the game. The Warriors, however, have been playing great defense this season, limiting the ball movement of teams and forcing players into bad shots. The Spurs run a lot of pick-and-roll, off-the-ball movement to free guys up, but Golden State has been limiting that all season. San Antonio will have to get players open quickly, not use up too much shot clock, and get quick baskets.

Kawhi Leonard Has to be Fresh and Healthy

The biggest advantage the Warriors will have is that they can attack Kawhi Leonard all they want knowing he won’t be as healthy as he normally is, meaning Kevin Durant could get some very easy baskets off of him. The key will be to have Coach Popovich utilize the bench well enough to the point where Kawhi can get his rest, and the Warriors don’t explode and go on a game-clinching scoring outburst like they are capable of. Leonard has been everything the Spurs could’ve hoped for in these playoffs, averaging 27.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 4.7 apg. The teamwork will be key if the Spurs want to have any chance of winning the series. The only problem for the Spurs is that Kawhi isn’t unstoppable like LeBron James, especially when he isn’t healthy.

The Verdict

Many people who know me know that since the season started, I said the Spurs would beat Golden State in the Western Conference Finals, but after weighing in the stats, the wins and losses, the things I said the Spurs will have to do in order to win, and everything in between, I had to ask myself some important questions. Will the Spurs get swept? No. Can they win the series? Yes, and the reasons above prove how and why they can win, but the only problem is that Golden State knows how to win, even when Steph is limited, when the fans are out of the fame, and the opposing teams’ best player is on fire. If the Spurs win, it has to go to 7 games, but this series will be over in 6, with Golden State winning in 6.

Stats from:

http://stats.nba.com/leaders

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/05/jonathan-simmons-spurs-nba-playoffs-starter-kawhi-leonard-150-pay-d-league-tryout-story-rockets-game-6