LaMarcus Aldridge

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Spurs in 2019-20

Warriors vs. the West: How Dubs match up against Spurs in 2019-20

For the first time in five seasons, the Warriors find themselves in new territory entering the 2019-20 season. With Kevin Durant gone to the Brooklyn Nets, Klay Thompson rehabbing his surgically repaired left ACL and eight new players on the roster, the Warriors are not the preseason NBA title favorites. 

As the Warriors reconcile a new reality, the rest of the Western Conference has retooled with superstar talent. Over the next seven days, NBC Sports Bay Area will examine teams that are expected to challenge Golden State's Western Conference throne.

First up: The San Antonio Spurs. 

Offseason transactions

In an offseason dominated by superstar player movement, the Spurs biggest summer splash was the re-signing of forward Rudy Gay, who agreed to a two-year, $32 million contract. Gay averaged 13.7 points in one of the most efficient series of his career. 

Joining Gay in San Antonio was DeMarre Carroll, who was acquired in a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn and agreeed to a three-year, $20.65 million contract. 

Spurs rounded out the roster signing big man Trey Lyles and drafting Luka Šamanić, Keldon Johnson, Quinndary Weatherspoon. But perhaps the biggest addition will be the return of point guard DeJounte Murray, who missed last season with a torn ACL. 

Strengths

The biggest strength the Spurs have maintained since Tim Duncan's retirement is coach Gregg Popovich. Despite the departure of Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio won 48 games behind the core of DeMar DeRozen and LaMarcus Aldridge. While DeRozen shot a career-high 48 percent from the field, Aldridge had one of most efficient seasons of his career, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds on 51.9 percent.

With the duo's effectiveness, the Spurs were among the best shooting teams in the league last season, making 47 percent of their shots, second only to the Warriors. 

Under Popovich's leadership, the Spurs have made the playoffs the last 22 seasons, a streak that should continue with the current roster.

Weaknesses

The Spurs were one of the worst defensive teams in the league, posting a 110.5 defensive rating -- 11th worst in the league. 

Part of the slump could be attributed to the absence of Murray, the team's best perimeter defender, and Leonard's departure to Toronto. However, with the additions of Carroll and Murray, the unit should improve.  

How the Warriors match up

With eight new players on the roster, the Warriors have very little idea of how cohesive the team will be by their first matchup against the Spurs on Nov. 1 in San Francisco. Worse - with Andre Iguodala traded to Memphis and Thompson out - the Warriors will be without two of last year's top perimeter defenders.

[RELATED: What Steph thinks of Chase Center]

Compounding their wing defensive woes, Willie Cauley Stein is the only true center on on the Warriors roster, meaning Golden State could struggle against Aldridge in the frontcourt.

Until the Warriors find a defensive identity, the Spurs could be a problem this season.

Warriors vs. Spurs watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

warriorswatchguide.jpg
USATSI

Warriors vs. Spurs watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

SAN ANTONIO - After quality wins over the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors are armed with their first winning streak since before the All-Star break. 

Now, on the first night of a strenuous back to back, the champs will look to keep their rhythm against the suddenly red-hot Spurs. Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. 

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors vs. Spurs online and on MyTeams app]

Entering Monday, the series is tied 1-1. The Warriors beat the Spurs 141-102 at Oracle Arena in the last matchup between these two teams on Feb. 6. 

The Warriors will have some help Monday, as Kevin Durant will return to the lineup following a two-game absence recovering from a sprained ankle. 

Here's everything you need to know about the matchup.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors

C Andrew Bogut
F Kevin Durant 
F Draymond Green
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry

Spurs

C LaMarcus Aldridge
C Jakob Poeltl
G Derrick White
G DeMar DeRozan
G Bryn Forbes

INJURY REPORT 

Warriors: DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) is out, Damian Jones (left pectoral surgery) is out

Spurs: Dejounte Murray (torn right anterior cruciate ligament) is out. 

[RELATED: Draymond talks KD's free agency, guarantees Warriors will win title]

ROTATION

Warriors: With Cousins out, Golden State's newest addition Andrew Bogut will start in the frontcourt. During Bogut's last tenure with the team, Golden State was routinely among the top defenses in the league. 

Klay Thompson is in the midst of a great shooting stretch, having scored 20 or more points in eight straight games. He will have a chance to match his career high of nine such games Monday night. 

Spurs: One of the hottest teams in the league, the Spurs enter Monday's matchup on an eight-game winning streak. DeRozan has had a fantastic season, averaging 21.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists and is on pace to become the first player in Spurs history to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds. Aldridge, who played in his seventh All-Star game last month, is averaging 21.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. San Antonio has won 10 straight games at home. 

Officials: Jason Phillips (#23), Tre Maddox (#73), Gediminas Petraitis (#50)

LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan out of Spurs-Warriors for load management

ladr_usatsi.jpg
USATSI

LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan out of Spurs-Warriors for load management

Gregg Popovich just one-upped LeBron James. 

San Antonio Spurs stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan will not play Wednesday night against the Warriors due to ... load management.

Load management, of course, was the same reason the Los Angeles Lakers gave for James' absence from the lineup in Saturday's Warriors win. But in many ways, the Lakers took their cue from Popovich.

In a nationally televised game on Nov. 29, 2012, Popovich rested all five of his starters against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. The Spurs were fined $250,000, but resting players only has become more prominent since then.

The Warriors, for instance, rested Draymond Green on the final stop of a five-game road trip last week in Indiana. In four full seasons under coach Steve Kerr, a Popovich disciple, Harrison Barnes (2014-15) is the only Warrior to play in all 82 games. 

[RELATED: KD to Knicks reportedly has 'never felt more real' to Warriors]

Still, Aldridge and DeRozan's absences do remove most of the luster in a matchup of two of the NBA's hottest teams. The Spurs have overcome a slow start, and are 21-9 in their last 30 games, although they lost to the Kings on Monday night in Sacramento. The Warriors, meanwhile, have won 12 of their last 13.

Dreams of a full-strength matchup must be put on hold until March 18, when the teams square off in San Antonio. The Spurs will have just 11 games remaining after that one, but Popovich seems to think their load will be properly managed as they fight for playoff positioning in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.