For the fourth year in a row, the Golden State Warriors advance past the first round. They defeated the Spurs 99-91, anchored by Draymond Green’s 19 rebounds.
San Antonio didn’t go down without a fight. The combination of a 30-point performance from LaMarcus Aldridge with a dismal 18.5 3-point percentage from Golden State led to the Spurs getting as close as two points away with less than a minute remaining. However, Kevin Durant hit a contested jumper over Rudy Gay to put the series on ice.
Who’s Got Next?
The Warriors will now face the New Orleans Pelicans in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Pelicans made a statement in Round 1, sweeping the No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers. Their success is largely attributed to the dominant play of Anthony Davis. Portland didn’t have an answer for his athleticism on both ends of the floor.
Kevin Durant understands the challenge that lies ahead for Golden State:
Another difficult assignment will be Rajon Rondo, who emerges in playoff time. Rondo won a title with the 2008 Celtics, so he knows what it takes to win in the postseason. He brings an unmatched level of intensity and is not afraid to put his body on the line to make big plays. He and Anthony Davis have developed a special chemistry, for they seem to know where the other is on the court at all times:
Playoff Rajon Rondo voodoo pic.twitter.com/Qen9KLcGED
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) April 21, 2018
Game 1 is slated for Saturday, April 28, in the Oracle Arena. There is a possibility that Steph Curry may return from injury to play in this series, but his status is still questionable.
The End of an Era?
The Spurs raised 5 banners in the past 20 years. Legendary players such as Tim Duncan and David Robinson have come and gone in this time, and remaining players with multiple rings on their hands are battling Father Time to sustain their aging bodies. Warriors coach Steve Kerr was actually on the 1999 championship squad as a player. There remains only one relic of all five of these championships: coach Gregg Popovich. Unfortunately, he couldn’t coach the final games of this series as he is currently grieving the passing of his wife, Erin. Assistant coach Ettore Messina coached in his place.
Coach Popovich has found the key to success throughout the years. He hasn’t posted a losing record in two decades and is renowned for his ability to command fundamentally sound teams that move the ball exceptionally well. His job is not an easy one to sustain at age 69, and the long seasons are taking their toll. The oldest to ever coach in the NBA was Hubie Brown, who eventually resigned due to health issues at the age of 71. Sooner or later, Popovich will have to hang up the clipboard. It is possible that he may have coached his last game.
While 40-year-old shooting guard Manu Ginobili has one more year remaining on his contract, he may have just played his last game. Tim Duncan is still technically on the Spurs payroll even though he retired two seasons ago, so don’t rule it out. Kawhi Leonard’s future with the Spurs is also uncertain, as trade rumors have been brewing all season as he was sidelined with injuries. Even if the Spurs dynasty does crumble, they have plenty to reflect on.