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Draymond, defensive intensity will set the tone in Game 1 vs Spurs

OAKLAND — The Warriors open the NBA playoffs Saturday at noon, when they meet the Spurs at Oracle Arena in Game 1 of a best-of-seven Western Conference series.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 10:30 a.m., with postgame coverage immediately after the final horn of the ABC telecast.

The Warriors (58-24) earned the No. 2 seed before stumbling down the stretch without injured star guard Stephen Curry and losing 10 of their last 17 games.

San Antonio (47-35) won 10 of its final 15 games to nab the No. 7 seed and make the playoffs for the 21st consecutive season, the longest active streak in the league. The Spurs are without star forward Kawhi Leonard.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Draymond Green & Co. vs. LaMarcus Aldridge: In four games against the Warriors this season, Aldridge averaged 26.0 points and 11 rebounds. The Warriors would take that for the series. The last Green-Aldridge bout ended when Green left in the second quarter with a pelvic bruise, while Aldridge went on to have his best game against the Warriors this season (30 points, on 13-of-22 shooting, 12 rebounds). In addition to Green, Aldridge will see Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee. Green and McGee will try to run Aldridge, while Pachulia and West will bang and bump.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (L MCL sprain) and G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) are listed as out.

Spurs: F Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) is listed as out.

GAME OFFICIALS

James Capers (crew chief), Kane Fitzgerald, Ron Garretson, Tyler Ford (alternate)

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won three of four in the regular season, 112-92 on Nov. 2 at San Antonio, 122-105 on Feb. 10 in Oakland and 110-107 on March 8 in Oakland before losing 89-75 on March 19 in San Antonio. The Warriors lost two of three in the previous regular season but swept the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are 12-6 (including postseason) against San Antonio in the Steve Kerr era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: The coaching staff is preaching it. The players are saying it. The consensus is that they will fix the lack of communication and poor rotations and mental errors that plagued them over the final 17 games, during which they were 17th in defensive rating. It shouldn’t take long to see if the Warriors have their fangs.

SETTING THE TEMPO: The Warriors were fifth in the NBA in pace and even though things slow down without Curry, they still want to push at every opportunity. PG Quinn Cook has been comfortable in transition, but this is his postseason debut. Can he and his teammates force the Spurs (29th in pace) out of their comfort zone?

ROARACLE: The Warriors have always valued having homecourt advantage and it generally has served them well. They were 9-0 at Oracle last postseason and were 114-9 over three previous regular seasons. They were 29-12 at home this season, which suggests some of the mystique has worn off. Can they get it back?


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