For the third straight year, the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs haven’t been able to get it right. The highly competitive series the NBA has been waiting to see will likely elude fans, once again.

San Antonio failed to uphold their end of the bargain in 2016 when they were upset by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round. It looked like the Spurs might steal Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals against Golden State, but Kawhi Leonard went down with a season-ending injury and San Antonio was swept.

In the 2018 playoffs, it’s injuries to Leonard and Stephen Curry that have taken the luster away from a first-round matchup between West’s only NBA Finals’ representatives of the last five years. Golden State is expected to roll past San Antonio, who failed to win 50 games for the first time since the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

Curry suffered a sprained MCL on March 23 that Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has said will keep the point guard sidelined for the entirety of the first round. Curry will be re-evaluated Saturday and is expected to return later in the postseason.

Leonard has battled a quadriceps injury all season long. He’s been limited to nine games and hasn’t suited up in three months. There’s no indication that he’ll be available for the Spurs anytime soon.

Several star players have suffered key injuries ahead of the playoffs. Kyrie Irving has been ruled out for the playoffs, while Joel Embiid is hopeful to return in the Philadelphia 76ers’ first-round series after suffering an orbital bone fracture. In a worst-case scenario, Curry could miss up to six weeks.

But there is no such timetable for Leonard. He’s reportedly been cleared by San Antonio’s doctors, and that has fans holding out hope that Leonard might return to face the Warriors.

Having a healthy Leonard would give the Spurs little chance to beat the Warriors at full-strength. Golden State, however, is missing their most important player.

Without Curry, the Warriors are vulnerable to being upset by the right opponent. The two-time MVP missed 16 of Golden State’s last 17 games, and the team went just 6-10 when Curry was sidelined.

The Warriors are a completely different team when Curry is on the bench compared to when he’s in the game. Golden State outscored opponents by an average of 13.7 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the court. With Curry out of the game, the Warriors had just a plus-0.7 net rating in the regular season.

Before he got injured in last year’s postseason, Leonard looked like he might be the NBA’s second-best player. Couple that with maybe the greatest coach of all time in Gregg Popovich and San Antonio has the makings of a team that could give the banged-up Warriors a run for their money.

In 12 2017 playoff games, Leonard averaged 27.7 points on fewer than 17 shot attempts per game, as well as 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per contest. The Spurs had a plus-11.1 rating with the forward on the court. When Leonard sat, San Antonio was outscored by an average of 11.1 points per 100 possessions.

Even before becoming one of the league’s top superstars, Leonard showed a penchant for coming up big in the postseason. He was named the 2014 NBA Finals MVP when the Spurs beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games.

San Antonio ranked fourth in defense during the regular season, playing almost exclusively without Leonard, who has two Defensive Player of the Year awards to his name. A defense that features Leonard might stifle a Curry-less Warriors’ offense.

The reality is that Leonard probably won’t play again until next season, and the lineup San Antonio featured in the regular season won’t be able to challenge Golden State. Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green arguably give the Warriors the series’ three best players if Leonard and Curry won’t be a part of the first round.

But the uncertainty surrounding Leonard’s injury at least makes things interesting before Game 1 begins Saturday afternoon.