Back in May, all basketball betting and non-betting fans were eagerly anticipating the NBA Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors – a clash of such epic proportions that it would have caused even the top sportsbooks to crash under the deluge of wagers placed. Alas, it was not to be; the Spurs succumbed to the Oklahoma City Thunder 2-4 in the Conference Semifinals (it could have been worse, though; we could have gotten the Thunder versus the Trail Blazers). Like Vladimir and Estragon, we were left waiting in the dark.
The wait, however, is over. Well, not quite, actually. Basketball betting fans still have to wait until Tuesday, October 25th for the Warriors to open their season against the Spurs at the Oakland Arena in Oakland. This game will mark the first time that the Spurs take to the court without the newly retired Tim Duncan in about 20 years. It will also mark the regular season debut of one Kevin Durant with the Warriors. San Antonio lost much in the way of leadership and experience, but not a lot in the way of statistical production. Duncan averaged 8.6 points, 2.2 blocks, 3.0 assists, 10.8 rebounds, and 34.0 minutes per game in 61 regular season games, and 5.9 points, 1.3 blocks, 1.4 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 21.8 minutes per game in 10 playoff games in his final season with the Spurs.
Golden State, on the other hand, signed a player who posted 28.2 points, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 5.0 assists, 8.2 rebounds, and 35.8 minutes per game in 72 regular season games, and 28.4 points, 1.0 blocks, 1.0 steals, 3.3 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 40.3 minutes per game in 18 postseason games with the Thunder in 2016. The Warriors also resigned Anderson Varejao, but lost quite a bit of bench depth with the departures of Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Leandro Barbosa, as well as trading Andrew Bogut to the Dallas Mavericks. It’s ok, though; they needed the money to get Durant.
As for the Spurs, they resigned Manu Ginobili and brought in Pau Gasol, and of course they still have Tony Parker, and more importantly, Kawhi Leonard on their roster. San Antonio is the third basketball betting favorite team to win the 2016-17 NBA championship, right behind the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In head-to-head matchups, however, the Warriors won their 2015-16 regular season series with the Spurs 3-1 (though it is worth mentioning that San Antonio did hand Golden State one of their nine losses). The Warriors set a new record for best start in NBA history last season (24-0) so it is rather hard to picture them starting off with a defeat. Notwithstanding that, as long as Gregg Popovich is the Spurs’ head coach, one cannot entirely rule out San Antonio, whether it is within the context of a single game or the entire regular season and beyond.