Friday, March 10, 2017

The Best Team in the NBA

Update 3/11: After a one point loss in MN--with Steph Curry once again failing to hit the kind of winning shot he regularly did last year--Coach Kerr elected to rest...well, nearly San Antonio.  The Spurs were also short-handed but made easy work of the Warrior bench, which couldn't defend or score in the first half.  The victory puts the Spurs a half game behind the Dubs for top seed in the West, and their second win over the Warriors this year guarantees them the tie-breaker.  All of this could come back to haunt Golden State, as the Spurs pretty much prove they're deeper, and right now, better.

One other fascinating aspect of this game: how do you get the attention of perverse schedule-makers that try to maximize profits at the expense of the health and long-term viability of players for the prohibitive favorite of the year?  The Golden State Warriors and Coach Kerr did it very well.  No one can argue with Kerr's rationale for resting his starters, but obviously the league didn't anticipate he would dare do so in such an important game.  So fans in the arena and those who tuned into the mega-hyped broadcast were sorely disappointed, and that pretty much scuttles the NBA's too clever by half move of trying to squeeze the Warriors with a back to back middle of the night flight from MN to Texas, after a bizarre road trip with a home game sandwiched in.  It's no guarantee anything will change, but the schedule makers may think twice before doing this next year.  (Nevertheless, the Warriors will play the Spurs once more, again in San Antonio and again the second of a back-to-back.)

For most of the year the question usually asked was whether the best team in the NBA was Golden State or Cleveland.  At this point in the season, neither are.  The best team in the NBA at the moment is the San Antonio Spurs.

They are solid, well-coached and have been winning close games in the fourth quarter, and K. Leonard is this year's Steph Curry in terms of making the needed shot to win.

The Warriors are not where a team wants to be that expects to get deep into the playoffs and contend for the championship.  The injury to Kevin Durant made them beatable, but the shooting woes of the Splash Brothers have become worrisome.  They've lost three of their last five games, though they did win back to backs.

Now they fly to Minnesota for a tough game there, and then to San Antonio for only their second game with the Spurs.  Both of their remaining games with the Spurs in San Antonio are back to backs.  Tell me who put this schedule together.

The Warriors could catch fire at any time, and Durant could be back in time and in shape to a difference.  But at the moment I'd rate the Spurs as the favorites in the West and maybe for the championship.  Cleveland has built itself for the playoffs, especially against the Warriors, but is having trouble getting there.  Right now the Spurs have the mo and the mojo.

The game in San Antonio on Saturday will be a good test, but it will hardly be the last.  I expect the Dubs and the Spurs to see a lot of each other before it's over.  Neither team right now has much idea of how they match up.

The media may not take the Spurs seriously but I'll bet the Warriors do.  Cleveland better be thinking about that, too.