Spurs set up Warriors meeting as Harden and Rockets crumble

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“You lose Kawhi Leonard and you lose Tony Parker, so it’s the next man up with the San Antonio Spurs”. The Warriors came from 22 down in the second quarter to win the finale, 110-98 on March 29 in San Antonio. The All-Star guard scored just 10 points, on 2-of-11 shooting from the field, in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals, including nailing 2-of-9 three-pointers.

The Spurs will next face the Golden State Warriors, starting Sunday. Even with San Antonio’s pedigree, the Warriors – who have been a dominant team all season – have to be considered heavy favorites heading into this series.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden and head coach Gregg Popovich share the sadness after their loss. “I know they played well, and we didn’t”. “They’re a fast paced team”. “Demanded the ball, got in good position. he was wonderful on the boards and of course he passes it really, really well and gets it moving for us”. D’Antoni, who helped Houston to a 14-game improvement in his first season, believes the Rockets might have been worn down by dealing with a team that lacks a clear weakness to exploit.

Leonard received treatment on his ankle throughout the day Friday and spent the game in the Spurs’ locker room and not on the bench. We’ve seen Leonard’s body of work in the regular season and in the Finals when he matched up against LeBron James. But it still seemed to be bothering him quite a bit after the game when he headed to the bus still walking with a noticeable limp. The Warriors won the NBA Championship after beating the Cavaliers in 2015, and then lost in seven games to the Cavs in 2016. Or at least not enough to make them believe the Spurs have much of a chance vs the Warriors. Every team is different.

San Antonio was up by 23 after the third quarter and scored the first seven points of the fourth to make it 94-64 and send numerous home fans streaming to the exits. With plenty of fresh legs, they relentlessly chased Houston’s shooters and led by as many as 40 points in the fourth quarter.

Leonard sat out the Spurs’ series-clinching victory over the Houston Rockets with an ankle injury on Thursday. “He was an absolute beast (Thursday), and that’s who he is”.

The Warriors are making their third consecutive trip to Western Conference finals, while the Spurs are back for the first time since winning it all in 2014. If it’s the same teams as a year ago, you KNOW I’m gonna have fun with that one.

Kevin Durant’s ability to create his own shots will be key in the upcoming Western Conference Finals. “This team has worked hard all year and we’ve grinded and tried to get better, so I’m happy to finally win (the series)”.

The Warriors (67-15) and Spurs (61-21) finished the regular season with the best records in the National Basketball Association.

But they’re ready for the challenge.

“We need to get better as a group”, he said.

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