OPINION: Why the Spurs should avoid the No. 1 seed in the West

Let's be honest. While players and coaches are quick to lament an injury that occurred to a player on another team, there are fans that are sometimes ecstatic about the same news.

For example, it only takes a short search on social media to find Oklahoma City Thunder fans celebrating the news of Kevin Durant's injury.

But there's a difference between celebrating an injury and accepting the reality by thinking of what that means for the rest of the league.

Here in San Antonio, Spurs fans are thinking that Durant getting hurt could open the door to the Spurs catching the Warriors and guaranteeing themselves home court advantage throughout the playoffs. But I'm here to tell you that the Spurs should worry about matchups more than home court and that they should do all they can to avoid the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Here's why:

Check out the current standings in the Western Conference (with losses in parenthesis):

1. Warriors (11)*
2. Spurs (13)
3. Rockets (19)
4. Jazz (24)
5. Clippers (24)
6. Grizzlies (25)
7. Thunder (25)
8. Nuggets (33)
*Golden State lost to Chicago on Thursday night after this story was published

There are two teams that the Spurs would love to avoid in the playoffs as long as possible if not entirely: The Golden State Warriors and LA Clippers.

It's unlikely that the Spurs can avoid the Warriors all the way to the NBA Finals as they've got the best record in the NBA for a reason. As for the Clippers, their last game aside, LA seems to have San Antonio's number, having eliminated the Spurs from the playoffs two years ago and going 3-3 in regular season matchups since then.

On the other hand, the Spurs would welcome matchups against every other team in the West, including the Houston Rockets and Thunder.

Without Kevin Durant, the Thunder aren't the threat that they used to be and the Spurs dominated their only matchup against Russell Westbrook and OKC earlier this season. As for the Rockets, while they have a better overall team, there's no psychological or significant matchup advantage that Houston has over the Spurs balanced attack and smart defense. San Antonio is 2-1 against Houston this season, winning the last two.

Matchups are far more important to playoff success than seeds and home court. So, as a Spurs fan, you have to look at it this way:

Because the NBA doesn't re-seed after the first round of the playoffs, it's possible that if the Thunder can finish higher than the No. 7 seed, the Spurs wouldn't have to play the Clippers, Warriors or Thunder until the Western Conference Finals.

This shouldn't preclude the Spurs from trying to win games down the stretch. They still want to hold off the Rockets for the No. 2 seed and it would also be great to get quality victories to feel better about their title chances as they play the Warriors twice and also have games against the Rockets, Cavs, Clippers, and Thunder down the stretch.

But if they don't catch the Warriors for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, that should be considered preferable if the current Western Conference standings hold.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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