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WEST FINALS: No. 1 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS vs. No. 2 SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Matchup History

--Warriors-Spurs is the first Conference Finals in 14 years to feature two teams that won at least 60 games each in the regular season. This is the ninth such matchup in NBA history:

CONFERENCE/DIVISION FINALS BOTH TEAMS 60+ WINS

1967 Philadelphia 76ers    68   Boston Celtics       60

1972 Milwaukee Bucks       63   Los Angeles Lakers   69

1975 Washington Bullets    60   Boston Celtics       60

1981 Philadelphia 76ers    62   Boston Celtics       62

1996 Chicago Bulls         72   Orlando Magic        60

1997 Chicago Bulls         69   Miami Heat           61

1998 Utah Jazz             62   Los Angeles Lakers   61

2003 Dallas Mavericks      60   San Antonio Spurs    60

2017 Golden State Warriors 67   San Antonio Spurs    61

--San Antonio and Golden State are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since the Spurs defeated the Warriors in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals.

--The teams’ last postseason meeting marked the beginning of the Warriors’ ascension. In the 2012-13 season, Golden State finished 47-35 to make the playoffs for the first time in six years and only the second time in 19 years. The Warriors pushed the favored Spurs to six games, including their first victory in San Antonio since 1997. At the time, Draymond Green was a rookie, Klay Thompson was in his second season and Stephen Curry was establishing himself as a potential star. Since then, those three players have led Golden State to the 2015 NBA title, an NBA-record 73 wins in 2015-16 and two 67-win seasons.

Team Notes

--San Antonio hasn’t visited Golden State since 2016-17 opening night, when Kawhi Leonard scored a then-career-high 35 points as the Spurs routed the Warriors 129-100 to spoil Kevin Durant’s debut with his new team. Leonard’s eye-opening performance was a sign of things to come – the starting point for his producing the highest-scoring season by a Spur in 15 years.

--These are the NBA’s best defensive teams. The Spurs led the NBA in defensive rating this season; the Warriors ranked a close second. Golden State held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage and three-point percentage in the NBA; San Antonio ranked in the top five in both categories. Kawhi Leonard is the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year; Golden State’s Draymond Green was the runner-up for the award both times.

--The teams offer a nice contrast in styles. Only three teams played at a faster pace than the Warriors during the regular season; only three teams played at a slower pace than the Spurs. The Warriors like to play small; the Spurs lean on their big lineups.

--The Warriors are 23-1 in their last 24 games, including 8-0 in the playoffs. With a Game 1 win, Golden State would become the sixth team in NBA history to open a postseason with nine straight victories. (Cleveland is also 8-0 in the 2017 playoffs.) The NBA record for most victories to start a single postseason is 11 (Lakers in 1989 and 2001).

Player Notes

--Kevin Durant vs. Kawhi Leonard at small forward is one of the great individual matchups in the game. Leonard has joined Durant in the Western Conference’s All-Star starting lineup in each of the last two seasons.

--With Kawhi Leonard out for Game 6 against Houston, San Antonio forward Jonathon Simmons made his first career postseason start and scored a playoff-career-high 18 points – his fifth double-digit scoring game in the series. The undrafted Simmons is the rare player who has gone from attending an open tryout in the NBA Development League to playing in the NBA. His successful audition led to two seasons with San Antonio’s NBA D-League affiliate, an MVP performance in the championship game of the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League and now a spot in the Spurs’ rotation as an explosive athlete who is a tough defender and emerging scorer.    

--San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili needs seven three-pointers to pass Reggie Miller for second place on the all-time playoff list (LeBron James is right behind Ginobili). Golden State’s Stephen Curry is closing in on the top five. Here is the all-time list:

MOST PLAYOFF THREE-POINTERS
1. Ray Allen                385
2. Reggie Miller          320
3. Manu Ginobili       314
4. LeBron James         309
5. Kobe Bryant           292
6. Derek Fisher            285
7. Paul Pierce              276
8. Stephen Curry       274

--Tony Parker’s season-ending injury has created an opportunity for 20-year-old Spurs rookie Dejounte Murray, who recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists in the Game 6 clincher against Houston. Murray has the potential to be the latest in a long line of draft steals for San Antonio; he was the 29th pick in 2016.   

Coaching Notes

--Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and acting head coach Mike Brown both count San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich as a mentor. Kerr played four seasons under Popovich in San Antonio, where he won two NBA titles and had current Spurs Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili as teammates. Brown spent three years as an assistant for Popovich before becoming an NBA head coach. Last season, when Brown was between jobs, he worked informally for Popovich. When Brown was Cleveland’s head coach, he coached against Popovich in the 2007 NBA Finals. 

--Gregg Popovich is five wins behind Pat Riley for second place on the all-time playoff list:

MOST PLAYOFF COACHING WINS
1. Phil Jackson            229
2. Pat Riley                 171
3. Gregg Popovich     166

--Gregg Popovich was a Warriors assistant coach under Don Nelson from 1992-94. After those two seasons, Popovich returned for a second stint with San Antonio and has been there ever since.

 --Warriors assistant Ron Adams began his NBA coaching career as a Spurs assistant from 1992-94. Adams has been voted the NBA’s best assistant coach in each of the last two NBA.com GM surveys.