Sunday, March 20, 2016

Warriors/Spurs showdown

In hindsight, the results of the long anticipated game probably should have come as no surprise. Though the Golden State Warriors are known as a 3-point happy high scoring bunch, typically great team defense trumps an offensive juggernaut. And nobody plays team defense better than the San Antonio Spurs. By NBA standards, a low-scoring affair was likely. The final score of SA over GS 87-79 was hardly a shocker.

But another stat was glaring. GS hasn't defeated SA on their home court since way back in 1997. That particular losing streak is now at 33 and counting. To put that in perspective, elder statesman of the NBA Tim Duncan was still at Wake Forest back in 1997. A guy named Gregg Popovich was a rookie head coach. Players like Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard were just starting to lose their baby teeth. So for the Warriors to get knocked off yet again in San Antonio is hardly earth-shaking news. Besides, even though GS gets most of the attention these days, SA remains right on their heels and is far and away the best "other" team in the entire NBA.

Yet some other interesting possibilities remain in play. Even after the loss, GS is 62-7, and remains undefeated at home. With their 13 remaining games the Warriors would need to go 11-2 to eclipse the all-time best regular single season mark of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10). Possible? Sure.

For that matter, San Antonio is yet to lose at home this season as well. Can they win all their remaining home games? Definitely possible.

And that's the thing. No NBA team -- EVER -- has gone undefeated at home for an entire regular season. There could very well be two this year.

The very last week of the regular season will be compelling regarding these two teams. They meet twice again, once in each city. Theoretically, both teams could finish with perfect home records and GS could eclipse the Bulls' former mark. Given the Warriors are "allowed" two more losses, even if they lose @ San Antonio again, that gives them one to spare.

At the peril of looking ahead, chances are very good Golden State and San Antonio will clash in the Western conference playoff finals. Who else is going to beat either of those teams in a 7 seven game series when they have home court advantage along the way? The Thunder? The Clips? Not likely.

But such a scenario might play right into the hands of another team out there. For the sake of argument, let's assume Lebron and the Cavaliers emerge as champions of the East. Granted, the Toronto Raptors have quietly been having a great season themselves -- so the Cavs are hardly a gimme to waltz into the Finals.

But if it plays out that way, the Lake Erie boys might have an advantage. If they can breeze to and through the Eastern finals while GS and SA are beating each other's brains out in the West in what figures to be a long brutal series, maybe bestowing the 2016 championship on the best of the West could be premature.

Hoop fans know how bad Lebron wants to win a title in Cleveland, and how disappointed he was last year when he and the Cavs came up short against Golden State. Remember, Cleveland was ahead 2-1 in the 2015 Finals before Steph and the Warriors stepped on the gas and blew them away.

Maybe it will work out that way again this year and maybe not.

But first things first. Let's definitely keep an eye on GS's quest for the Bulls record, but the other eye on whether Golden State or San Antonio will ever get beaten at home. Will one of them finally blink as the season is winding down? Both? Neither?

Very interesting stuff. And there's that little thing called March Madness in college hoops playing out in the meantime.

Oh yeah. By all means, keep bringing it on.

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