Injuries Are Depriving Us From Watching The Spurs Thrive In The Clutch

"The Warriors will be going for another sweep, but this time we are talking about the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs. The spread for Game 7 favors Golden State by 11 points, but while this is the first time in the postseason the Warriors are double-digit road favorites, they have won 10 of their last 12 games by double figures, so that doesn't really come as a surprise." -- line manager Dave Strauss.

Kawhi Leonard is gone. Tony Parker is gone. David Lee is gone.

Thusly, the San Antonio Spurs are on the brink of going on a fishing trip sooner than they wanted to.

While the Golden State Warriors continue to feast on a deprived Spurs roster, it's hard to not harken back to what took place in the opening game of the series. Game 1 was the one where the Spurs opened up a huge lead on the team with the league's best record for the third consecutive year, one where we knew that the Warriors would inevitably make their run and get themselves back into the game, and one where Kawhi would hopefully play the entire game.

However, the missed opportunity was to see if the Spurs could summon their philosophical beliefs and tie them into their individual talents in the moment they would need them most: clutch time.

Per NBA Math, the Spurs finished the season with the highest net rating in clutch time at +21.5. Clutch time is defined as during the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, where neither team was ahead by more than five points. Gregg Popovich's bunch this season did the following:

  • Their offensive rating was 115.9, which is the seventh best in the NBA.
  • Their defensive rating was 94.4, by far the best mark in the league.
  • Leonard, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and LaMarcus Aldridge all have positive defensive points saved on the year

The Spurs' postseason injuries robbed us of the chance to see if this club could execute when the pressure would be highest. It should be noted that the Warriors finished 11th in net rating during clutch time (+6.0) as Golden State rarely ever played in close games or spent a lot of time in the "clutch time" zone. It's a fair question to wonder just how effective the Warriors would fare with the new additions to the roster (Kevin Durant, Javale McGee, David West) in the tightest moments, along with the fact that head coach Steve Kerr only able to give direction from afar.

Can Kawhi get back for Game 4? (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE)

But if Kawhi was somehow able to play in Game 4 (current status, doubtful) and their best lineup was on the floor when the game mattered, their able to execute on both ends of the floor could be all the difference.

Game Odds
Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs

  • Spread
    • Golden State Warriors -11-110
    • San Antonio Spurs +11-110
  • Total
    • 217½ O-115 / U -105
  • Moneyline
    • No moneyline

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