The San Antonio Spurs are 38-6 this season. The defending champion Golden State Warriors are 40-4. They’re the two best teams in the NBA, and they meet for the first time tonight.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had special praise for Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who is not only making his first All-Star appearance in his fifth season but was also announced as a starter.
Kerr on Kawhi, via Monte Poole of CSN:
“We always talk about two-way players and how important it is, especially in the modern NBA, where you can’t hide a guy at either end,” Kerr said. “He’s probably the best two-way player in the league now.”
“You have to deal with him in all kinds of different ways,” Kerr said. “He’s a terror on defense, and offensively he’s gotten better and better. His 3-point shooting is really, really good. And he’s so strong that he can score around the rim. He’s a great player, and it’s kind of slowly but surely become his team in a lot of ways.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been breeding Leonard to take the reigns of this team, especially since being named the Finals MVP in 2014. His impact and confidence have continually heightened into exactly what Kerr has labeled him. In contrast, the Warriors have their own emphasis on two-way basketball with guys like Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala that have significant roles on both ends of the floor.
The most significant threat in this game, and any game the Warriors play is reigning MVP Steph Curry.
Here’s what Spurs point guard Tony Parker said about the assignment with Curry, via Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Parker confirmed Sunday what most expected. He will draw the black bean assignment of guarding the NBA’s most lethal scorer. He hopes to have help.
“They won’t leave me (on Curry) by myself,” Parker said after the Spurs’ hour-long practice at the University of San Francisco. “Obviously it takes a whole team to slow him down.”
Indeed, any great player is only potentially contained by the total effort of team defense. In Curry’s case, that’s especially true because he’s always in range and is a consummate threat as the game’s best shooter ever.
Real recognize real, as we often like to say. In sports, greatness has to recognize (and respect) greatness. That respect will result in high-level competitive basketball tonight.
Tune into our live broadcast for tonight’s Spurs-Warriors matchup here: https://t.co/CydWuMHVE8