San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors 4/14/18, Prediction & Odds

Kevin Durant

The Golden State Warriors begin their title defense Saturday afternoon when they face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

They enter the postseason having lost five of their last nine, including 122-98 at New Orleans on Wednesday night in the regular-season finale, which dropped them into the seventh position and a matchup with Golden State right off the bat. But hey, it worked. San Antonio will have a tough task ahead of it, as the Warriors are 30-12 at Oracle Arena this year and maintain home-court advantage in the series. Aldridge was not his typically efficient self but Tony Parker also struggled to finish and no one else was able to get much going.

During Friday's practice, Curry worked through running and light-shooting drills.

The Golden State Warriors announced that Stephen Curry has made "steady functional progress" recovering from his injury on Saturday.

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To instill a defensive spark, Warriors coach Steve Kerr started Andre Iguodala at point guard and JaVale McGee at center. Curry, whose 51 games this regular season were his fewest since 2011-12, averaged 26.4 points, 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals. The Warriors are just vastly more athletic and it allows them to create matchups and opportunities that work for them. The team has obviously grown accustomed to playing without Leonard in the lineup, but the impact of his absence becomes even more significant on the playoff stage.

Cook was a two-way player for the Warriors, meaning he split time between the Santa Cruz Warriors (G-League affiliate) and Golden State.

"We finally got back to defending", said Kerr. "He's got some of the best hands I've ever seen and our ability to switch I think disrupted them". The Warriors almost doubled the Spurs in the assist department (32-19) and had more crisp ball movement in both half-court sets and transition. McGee also did a good job on defense, blocking a shot by LaMarcus Aldridge early to help set the tone for the Warriors. The game starts at 3 p.m. EDT. In a Warriors press release, Curry is said to be progressing and will be evaluated next week. Both however are good defensive players within a team concept, making good plays on the ball and rotating well, key parts of the mid-range-and-D system that carried the Spurs here (along with veteran wing Danny Green, who had a small offensive upswing this year by virtue of attacking more off the dribble again).

"I let the team vote on whether they wanted him to stay in the room or not", Popovich said.

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