Previewing Game 1 of the Saturday action between the teams in the Western Conference.
Warriors vs. Spurs take place at 3PM on ABC
Both the Warriors and Spurs will be without key players for this series. The Warriors lost Steph Curry to a sprained left MCL and was ruled out for the first round while the Spurs are still without Kawhi Leonard who missed all but nine games this season. Although no announcement has been made official it is likely both are out the first round. Last year during the Western Conference Finals we saw the Warriors sweep the Spurs behind Curry averaging 31.5 PPG.
The series was also when Kawhi Leonard suffered his injury, Yes, we are use to seeing these two teams make a run for the title but this year they have not played at a championship level. The Spurs recently had their 18 year run of at least winning 50 games snapped which eventually led the Spurs to be labeled as the 7th seed with a 47-35 record. The Spurs have a winning culture and that is set behind the tandem of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili who combine for 131 playoff wins. Though the Warriors don’t have that kind of postseason experience on the roster they make it up with the talent they possess. During the regular season matchup the Warriors went 3-1 while locking up both games in Oakland.
The Spurs have one of the best passing units on offense and with the talent that Popovich possess it will be a hard postseason test. Everything changes in the postseason and teams understand not to underestimate anyone. If Aldridge and Gasol have dominate games today against the Warriors, I could see them pulling off the win but the Warriors have a lot of depth especially from beyond the arc. Both teams will have to play the best defense they have played all season.
Spurs take Game 1 following a 112-108 victory over the Warriors.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Game 1 takes place at 10:30PM on ESPN
Both teams need to figure out how they will guard against players like Anthony Davis of the Pelicans and Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers. Both players respectively lead their teams to the playoffs which take place at the Moda Center. Both teams did not know who they would be playing until the last day of the regular season. Portland (49-33) and New Orleans (48-34) were only separated by one game. For the Pelicans they have a 6”11’ standout in Anthony Davis who not only is in the discussion for MVP but has played at a First-Team All-NBA level all season. As for the Trail Blazers they are led by 6”3’ point guard Damian Lillard who to has played at a First-Team All-NBA level this season.
Davis finished 2nd in the league with 28.1 PPG, 5th in rebounds 11.1 and led the league in efficiency 33.0. However, the Pelicans suffered a major loss when DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season ending Achilles tendon injury in late-January. Davis carried the load the rest of the season and led the Pelicans to a 20-8 record since early February. The Trail Blazers have two players that may be able to at least slow down Anthony Davis during the playoffs. Portland is expected to use both Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu to defend Davis who during the two games against the Blazers put up a combined 36 points. Damian Lillard tied 4th in the league for scoring with 26.9 PPG, 10th in assists 6.6, and 11th in efficiency at 25.0. Lillard and his fellow guard CJ McCollum combine to make one of the most dominating and exciting backcourt combinations in the league.
The Pelicans will need to take care of the ball as the Trail Blazers are a good defensive team. If they can get the defensive board and avoid costly turnovers they cold make some noise during either one of the games in Portland. However, for the Trail Blazers it won’t just be about guarding Anthony Davis but it will also be worrying about the rest of the roster. Yes, the Trail Blazers have a nice defense but the Pelicans possess depth and those players can shoot the ball extremely well. If one of those players gets hot it will be tough for the team to control.
Trail Blazers take Game 1 behind big games from both Lillard and McCollum with a 116-108 victory.