All-Star Weekend is a good breather from one of the least up-for-grabs NBA seasons in recent memory. If we want to be honest with ourselves, there are only three teams with realistic title hopes. And if we want to be really honest, the Cavs probably can’t hang with the West’s best—there are only two. And—c’mon now, I know it’s no fun in calling a winner now, and we’d all rather pretend the playoffs can hold some drama—it’s the Warriors’ championship to lose.
In a radio interview this weekend, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the Warriors “unsolvable,” and said they’re his favorite team to watch—leaving unsaid the corollary that they’re a devil to play.
“I’ve spent more time thinking about Golden State than I have any other team I’ve ever thought about in my whole career,” Popovich told ESPN Radio. “Because they are really fun. I’d go buy a ticket and go watch them play. And when I see them move the ball, I get very envious. When I see them shoot uncontested shots more than anybody else in the league, it’s inspiring. It’s just great basketball.
“So I’m actually enjoying them very much. You try to solve them, but they’re in a sense unsolvable because it’s a particular mix of talent that they have. It’s not just that Steph can make shots or that Klay can make shots or that Draymond Green is versatile. Everybody on the court can pass, catch and shoot. And they all get it.”
There’s not a lot of empirical evidence of how this year’s Spurs and Warriors match up. They’ve met just once, and in that one Golden State beat San Antonio (playing without Tim Duncan) by 30. “They outplayed us in every single aspect of the game,” Manu Ginobili said. Added Popovich: “It was like men and boys out there.”
The two teams meet three more times this season, though not again for another full month, by which time you’d expect them to be locked in to the top two seeds in the West, so there may not be too much to play for: save Golden State’s pursuit of the 1995-96 Bulls’ single-season win mark. They’re one game ahead of Chicago at the same point, and Klay Thompson revealed yesterday that he received the blessing from Michael Jordan himself to go for the record.
At the sportsbooks right now, the Warriors are better-than-even to win a title. Which does offer drama of its own. Not the “who will win” question of most seasons, but a sort that’s even more acute: will anyone beat the Warriors? In the meantime, Popovich is happy to pump their tires. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe what he says.