Behind The Scoreboard
Is it possible that the San Antonio Spurs could be the underdogs in the Western Conference Finals versus the Golden State Warriors?
In this matchup the odds have been stacked up against the Spurs, a 61-win team that is considered an underdog.
Back in 2013, during the NBA playoffs, the Warriors arrived in San Antonio to start the Western Conference semifinals. A not-yet all-star by the name of Stephen Curry scored 44 points in Game 1, which the Spurs had won in double overtime. In Game 2, Klay Thompson, a second-year guard, reeled in 34 points for the win as Golden State had briefly held home court advantage.
The Spurs eventually came back to win the series in six games, outlasting the “Splash Brothers” to advance to the first of two straight NBA Finals.
But there was potential for great things to come for Golden State. Over the years, the Warriors kept getting better and better. In 2015, they won a championship. The Warriors had a league record of 73 wins in the 2015-16 season. And once again, they have entered the 2017 playoffs as the most intimidating team in the post-season.
Sunday afternoon, San Antonio opened its first Western Conference finals at Golden State since 2014. The Warriors still have Curry and Thompson. And they have groomed a third all-star in forward Draymond Green. As if that wasn’t enough, Golden State went out on the free-agent market last summer and came back with five-time scoring champion Kevin Durant.
The Warriors breezed to a 67-15 regular season. They swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs against Portland and Utah without breaking a sweat. And now, the Warriors are a few victories away from advancing to their third consecutive NBA Finals.
It’s not as if the Spurs don’t have weapons of their own. Besides, they hold the NBA’s second-best record (61-21) after all. The Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in a 4-2 series win in Round 1 and destroyed James Harden and the Houston Rockets’ dreams 4-2 in the semis.
The Spurs went into action last Sunday with the intent to ruin the Warriors’ season-long hype. Golden State trailed San Antonio by as many as 25 points, and faced a 20-point deficit at the half. But the Warriors produced a historic 113-111 comeback victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. They rallied from way down in the third quarter after the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard exited the game with an ankle injury.
This was the largest comeback win in a conference finals game since 2002, when the Boston Celtics came back from 26 down to beat the New Jersey Nets in Game 3. And it’s tied for the third largest halftime comeback in NBA postseason history.