Two teams that know all about injuries to point guards meet without their starters Friday night when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Golden State Warriors.
The Spurs have successfully juggled two healthy point guards en route to a fast start this season, one that suffered its first hiccup in a 103-97 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.
Point guards Dejounte Murray and Derrick White combined for 28 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals in the defeat.
Through four games, they have provided an average of 28.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.5 steals from the point guard position.
A year ago, the Spurs threw an inexperienced White into the fire after Murray blew out his right knee in a preseason game. He missed the entire season.
Murray’s minutes are being monitored early this year. As a result, he will sit out the second half of a back-to-back at Golden State.
“Health first,” he explained to reporters Thursday night in Los Angeles. “It’s protecting me as a player. I am just doing whatever they need me to do — from the doctors to the coaches. I just show up and do my job. Coach Pop (Gregg Popovich) and the doctors come and tell me, and I go from there.”
The Warriors find themselves today where the Spurs were a year ago, with Stephen Curry having suffered a broken left hand in Wednesday’s home loss to Phoenix.
He’s not likely to miss more than two months, but like the Spurs last season, the Warriors have no proven backup.
It’s possible they will slide newcomer D’Angelo Russell over from shooting guard, but the club’s third guard has been rookie Jordan Poole. Either way, Poole figures in the mix, as does last year’s little-used first-round choice, Jacob Evans.
Golden State is expected to be without its other returning starting guard, Klay Thompson, at least until the All-Star break as he rehabs an ACL injury suffered in last year’s NBA Finals.
Already, the Western Conference title defense has gone well off the rails.
“Obviously, it’s been a tough start for us on many levels,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted in the wake of Curry’s injury. “We’re just trying to find our footing. This puts us in a tough spot.”
Already without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins and Shaun Livingston from last year’s fifth straight trip to the Finals, the Warriors lost two of three even with a healthy Curry, then got shellacked by the Suns on Wednesday far worse than the 121-110 score would indicate.
In two games at their new San Francisco-based home, including the home opener against the Clippers, the Warriors have been outscored 14-0 and 31-11 from the opening tip. Golden State has shuffled through so many players in just four games, two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman have combined for 50 points.
The Spurs have battled the Warriors on relatively even terms — until the playoffs — throughout Golden State’s dominating five-year run. The Warriors have held just a 9-8 edge in the regular season, although they have stepped it up a notch in the postseason, winning eight of nine games in series wins in 2017 and 2018.
–Field Level Media