The unquestioned marquee season tipoff game is the Golden State Warriors versus the San Antonio Spurs.
That would probably be true for the Warriors even if they were playing the Brooklyn Nets, as the addition of Kevin Durant to last season’s 73-win machine was the story of the offseason and cemented their position at the top of ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.
San Antonio, despite losing Tim Duncan, find themselves second in the preseason BPI rankings.
The Warriors are at home for the season opener and BPI gives them a 69 percent chance to win the game. But remember that Draymond Green is a career 69 percent free throw shooter, so the odds of the Spurs stealing the season opener are the same as Green missing a foul shot.
The real question is how do they do it?
The Spurs are really the Bizzaro Warriors. The Warriors are the top ranked offense, while the Spurs are the top ranked defense. Golden State added one of the best players in the league to their roster while the Spurs lost one of the all-time greats. The Warriors have a collection of wings that lets them play “small” (hard to call Death Lineup 2.0 small when it includes a seven-foot Durant) while the Spurs’ strength remains their front court. Golden State is leading the revolution of three-point shooting while San Antonio is finding ways to make the long two a part of an efficient offense.
They are projected as the top two teams in the West and could not be more different in their styles of play. So the game – and what is likely to be their seven game series (BPI projects that the Spurs and Warriors have a 50 percent chance of meeting in the Western Conference Finals) is which team can impose their will on the other and play the style they are built to play.
BPI certainly gives the edge to the Warriors at home, but unless you are shocked by Green missing a free throw, a Spurs opening night win would not be a big surprise.
For more analytics content head to ESPN.com/analytics.
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