Wayne Root: Is Golden State the “New” San Antonio?
I’ve been watching a lot of games involving the Golden State Warriors this season. Out here in Las Vegas, their games are played in prime time except when they travel East. If you have League Pass, or just pick up the network games…you’ve seen a lot of exceptional basketball from this team in the 2014-15 season.
It’s not an ideal match in terms of personnel and approach. But, the Warriors remind me a lot of the San Antonio Spurs for several reasons. So, it’s fitting that those two teams are playing each other Friday night in a game you can watch on ESPN. It may represent a formal “changing of the guard” from last year’s champion (on the tail end of a dynasty) to this year’s eventual champion (potentially starting a new dynasty!).
Why do I see these teams as similar?
*They run beautiful offenses. The Spurs have always been more of an inside-out team in a way that emphasizes the scoring and passing skillsets of Tim Duncan. Golden State is more about overall flow and lightning pace. But, when both teams are at their best, you’re sitting there thinking “this is beautiful basketball.” The game has opened up so much since the Michael Jordan era, or even the Kobe/Shaq era with the Lakers. San Antonio did it with an international flair thanks to players who grew up loving soccer. Golden State is using more of an “analytics” flair by emphasizing three-pointers and good looks before the opposing defense has set up.
*They play much better defense than is realized. The Spurs were never seen as a defensive juggernaut even though Duncan had a lot of influence in the paint. In any sport…you have to play good defense to win championships! This year the media has been very slow to realize how great the Warriors are on that side of the ball. On a per-possession basis, they lead the league by a good bit. Playing at a fast pace has hidden one of the major strengths of this team. They get stops, and they turn takeaways into easy points. Defense still wins championships.
*The coaches use role players very intelligently. For too many years in the NBA, it was all about letting the stars force up bad shots while everyone else stood around and watched. San Antonio was one of the first teams to really make the most of specialists on either side of the floor. Coach Gregg Popovich found players who were GREAT at one or two things…then only asked them to do those one or two things. This spread out responsibilities in a way that reduced fatigue, while improving the overall performance of the team. Steve Kerr is doing the same thing already with the Warriors. Everybody knows their role, and the players truly respect the strengths that each individual brings.
*They cover pointspreads! Golden State is 31-19-1 so far this season, which is right at 62% for a success rate. The Spurs had seasons where they also got the money around 60% of the time. Oddsmakers, sharps, and the general public have a knack for underrating teams like this for some reason. I could never figure out why the Spurs were so consistently underrated given their sustained excellence. Golden State did cool off right before the break…but they were basically naming the score every night before then.
Normally WAYNE ALLYN ROOT makes headlines by fading overrated teams who are being given too much respect in the line. Here we have two teams who have been disrespected by the line at their peaks.
Does all of this mean that Golden State is a lock to go the distance? Not at all. Experience matters a lot in the playoffs. This group is still learning the ropes in terms of postseason play. Maybe they have to get close before they win some time down the road. Maybe some of the more veteran teams will rise to a new level in the 2015 postseason…while Golden State peaked too early. I can say with certainty that Golden State is the “unofficial champs” of the first 50 games. They’ve had an amazing run in a brutally tough conference. They are dominating what might be the toughest conference top-to-bottom ever!
If you haven’t been paying much attention to pro hoops, NOW is the time to start! There are great TV matchups Thursday and Friday night on TNT (Mavs/Thunder and Spurs/Clippers) and ESPN (Cavs/Wizards and Spurs/Warriors). I know many of you prefer college basketball for your personal betting. I’m THE KING OF LAS VEGAS because I win in ALL sports! You’re leaving money on the table if you’re not studying, handicapping, and beating the NBA at this time of year.
If you’d like some help finding easy winners, you can purchase my daily BASKETBALL BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about which of my long term programs best suits your individual needs, please talk to my representative in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-ROOT-WINS. Call Friday during normal business hours or this weekend before the first games tip off.
The Spurs are already one of the greatest dynasties in sports. Golden State is young enough to be on the verge of their own run at history. Just remember that the biggest dynasty in sports handicapping…and the most successful winner in history is yours truly. It’s time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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