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A quick 5-0 run from the Spurs is answered with a 6-0 run from the Warriors. Gregg Popovich calls a full timeout at 8:40 in the first quarter to settle his team down. Golden State has a 6-5 lead, and its defense looks active early.
Leonard looks just fine to start the game, draining a midrange jumper from the corner. First lead of Game 1 to the Spurs.
Golden State arrives in the conference finals for the third straight year, but having used up as little stress as possible in the process, winning eight straight games by an average margin of 16.5 points. Going back to the regular season, the Warriors have gone 23-1 since mid-March. The Spurs, however, come in a bit tattered, surviving two grueling series against the Grizzlies and the Rockets with point guard Tony Parker injured in the latter series. That forced backup Patty Mills into the starting five and leaves Manu Ginobili as the de facto backup point guard.
Authentic Steven Stamkos Jersey Oh and, the Spurs’ best player, Kawhi Leonard, missed a chunk of Game 5 and sat out Game 6 with an ankle injury.
The Celtics, like the rest of the East, lack a defensive presence who can at least handle James for 15- or 20-minute stretches per game. In the West, you have Andre Iguodala or Kawhi Leonard, but there is no counterpart in the East. The Celtics will try thick, wide-bodied Jae Crowder, and the Cavs will run James through pick-and-rolls when they do. They will try undersized Avery Bradley, and the Cavs will get James into isolation in those situations. They will put rookie Jaylen Brown on James, but James has too many tricks on hand for a young guy like Brown. James routinely torched P.J. Tucker in the second round of the playoffs, and none of the Celtics’ options are as suited to defend James as Tucker.