The San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors will kick off their second-round playoff series on Monday night, and if it plays out like the season series did, it should be a good one. The Spurs and Warriors split their four games during the regular season, with the home team coming out ahead in each contest.
San Antonio won the first of the four matchups this year on Jan. 18 in a low-scoring affair that would not be a predictor of things to come for the other three games. Stephen Curry did not play in the game due to a sprained ankle, and he continues to battle an ankle injury through these playoffs.
Despite the ankle bothering Curry in the first round against the Denver Nuggets, the Warriors' star had a huge series, averaging 24.3 points and 9.3 assists. Curry will have to keep it up against Tony Parker and the Spurs if Golden State is to have a chance in this series, and the point guard has shown the ability to have success against San Antonio. In the Warriors' season finale on April 15, Curry had 35 points in a 116-101 victory at Oracle Arena. Curry averaged 26.0 points and shot 46.7 percent from deep in three games against the Spurs this season.
It must be noted that Parker did not play in that last game and also did not play in the third game between the two teams this season, a 104-93 victory on March 20. Parker was excellent in the first meeting, scoring 25 points and handing out eight assists.
Injuries are a big story line in this series, as several other key players are dealing with them as well. David Lee is hoping to play a bit more after making a surprise return from a torn right hip flexor against the Nuggets, but he's unsure how the injury will respond. Lee averaged 17.3 points and 12.8 rebounds against the Spurs this year, and his presence will be missed against the frontcourt of San Antonio.
However, the Spurs' bigs are dealing with some issues themselves, as Tim Duncan is sick and Tiago Splitter is doubtful for Game 1 due to a sprained left ankle suffered in the series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Duncan was great against the Warriors this year, averaging 22.7 points and 12.0 rebounds. Splitter also played well in the season series, averaging 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds. The big man had one of his best games of the season on Jan. 18, scoring 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
Another key story line to watch for is the 3-point shooting. The Warriors were the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA this season in terms of percentage, and that has carried over to the playoffs. But in the four games against San Antonio this year, Golden State averaged just six makes and shot only 34.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the Spurs were also toward the top of the league in 3-point conversion in the regular season, but they struggled mightily against Golden State. San Antonio fired up 23.5 threes per game in the season series, but made just 26.6 percent of them.
Based on the season series and the general playing style of both teams, this should be a very entertaining matchup. Curry is one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA when he gets hot, and the Spurs are a well-oiled machine when they are clicking. San Antonio is the clear favorite, but Golden State could make things interesting if they can keep up the great shooting.