While March Madness 2016 is in full swing, the biggest NBA game of the season is set for Saturday night. The Golden State Warriors visit the San Antonio Spurs in a matchup unlike the NBA has ever seen before.
Golden State enters Saturday’s contest with a league-best 61-6 record, and on pace to win the most games in regular-season history. As good as the defending champs have been, the Spurs only trail them by 3.5 games in the standings, and the two teams have a combined .881 winning percentage. It’s the best combined record of any regular-season game to be played this late in an NBA season.
The game promises to be a contrast of styles. Scoring 115.7 points per game, the Warriors are easily the best offensive team in the league. The Spurs rank No. 1 indefensive, allowing just 92.5 points per contest. The Spurs are just ahead of Golden State for the best point differential in the NBA.
There is also a lot on the line, as the two teams battle for the best record in the West. The Warriors have set the record for most consecutive home games, winning 50 straight games at Oracle Arena dating back to last season. But the Spurs have managed to put together an even better home record this year, going 34-0 at AT&T Center. Golden State hasn’t won a regular-season game in San Antonio since 1997, and they’ve lost six of their last seven regular-season games against the Spurs.
It’s been a full year since either the Warriors or Spurs lost a reg season home game.
Combined, they are a perfect 83-0 over last 12 months
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) March 15, 2016
The one Warriors victory during that stretch came on Jan. 25 when Golden State cruised to a 120-90 win in a game that set an NBA TV ratings record. Stephen Curry scored 37 points on 12-of-20 shooting, making six of his nine three-point attempts. LaMarcus Aldridge was stymied by Draymond Green, scoring a season-low five points on 2-9 shooting.
Aldridge, however, has found his previous form with the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 23.8 points per game on 58 percent shooting in March. He played without an injured Tim Duncan against Golden State, and the veteran is healthy for Saturday’s game. This time, it will be the Warriors who are missing key contributors with Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli sidelined because of injuries.
Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points in the loss to Golden State, and he leads the team at 21.0 points per game on the season. The All-Star forward has scored at least 20 points in 10 of his last 11 games, and he ranks second in the NBA, making 46.8 percent of his three-pointers.
San Antonio is coming off consecutive wins over some of the best teams in the Western Conference. Prior to their eight-point win over Portland on Thursday night, the Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, who are the No.4 and No.3 seed, respectively, in the West. San Antonio will have a full day of rest before taking on Golden State, while the Warriors will play the Spurs just 24 hours after facing the Dallas Mavericks.
The Warriors’ last defeat came against the Los Angeles Lakers in a 17-point blowout on March 6. Golden State has been nearly perfect against winning teams, but they have three losses against teams that are under .500. The Warriors were defeated by the Mavericks and Detroit Pistons, who both sit at 34-34.
Golden State ends the regular season with two of their final four games against the Spurs, including a final visit to San Antonio on April 10. The two teams are overwhelming favorites to meet in the Western Conference Finals.
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Online Stream: WatchESPN
Prediction: Golden State over San Antonio, 106-104