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OAKLAND — The Warriors coaching staff got together to watch a little TV on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Andre the Giant documentary on HBO. They had some basketball games to monitor. The race for the NBA’s 2018 Western Conference playoff berths and seedings had become a mad sprint to the finish, and Steve Kerr and his staff weren’t going to miss it.

Power forward Draymond Green tuned in, too.

“Yes, it was fun!” Green said Thursday after an extra-long practice at the Warriors’ downtown facility.

But the Tetris-like playoff possibilities made his head hurt. “They gave me this sheet,” Green said. “And it was like full of scenarios of people we could play. It was too much. I just enjoyed the games.”

He added: “It didn’t have nothing to do with who we was gonna play.”

Kerr probably felt otherwise. For this team, the intrigue in regular-season-ending games like Denver-at-Minnesota and Utah-and-Portland primarily flowed from one question: Whom would the Warriors be playing in Round 1?

When the dust settled and the sneakers had stopped squeaking, they got their answer. They’ll be going against Kerr’s mentor, Gregg Popovich, and his San Antonio Spurs.

This has been a trying season for the Warriors. They have been hit by waves of injuries. The most significant of them, a series of knee and ankle twists by two-time MVP Stephen Curry, has yet to be resolved. And it isn’t just the medical issues. Some of the Warriors veterans, like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, seemed to age before our eyes this year. And as the regular season wound down, a general malaise settled onto the team. They looked like the world champion Warriors only in intermittent bursts.

Even if much of this adversity was self-wrought, it was still a trial. The Warriors, gilded as they have been under Kerr, were starved for good news. And it came around 7:30 Wednesday evening, when the Spurs officially nestled into the No. 7 seed.

No one in the building would ever admit it, but Kerr and his men probably popped a few cold ones and clinked bottles when the bracket filled out. Because they couldn’t have hoped for a more advantageous opponent than the Spurs.

In fact, if the Warriors were playing any of the other six Western Conference playoff teams, this would be a much different column. No, scratch that. You have to add even the Nuggets, who were eliminated from the fun when they lost to the Timberwolves in overtime Wednesday.

If Houston, Portland, Oklahoma City, Utah, New Orleans, Minnesota or Denver were coming to Oracle Arena on Saturday, I’d be writing about how vulnerable the Warriors are. How they limped down the home stretch, showing little passion or cohesion on the court. How you don’t just turn intensity up and down like a thermostat, even when you’re the three-time defending champions of the West. How this first-round series would be, at very least, a withering battle.

But nope, it’s the Spurs. The one team west of the Mississippi that the Warriors should be able to handle without anxiety.

Consider the Warriors’ maddening performance over the past month, as they closed their weird regular season with 10 losses in their final 17 games. They lost at Portland by 17 points, to Utah by 19, to Indiana by 11, then at Indiana by 20, a game that inspired Kerr to label his players’ efforts “pathetic.” Motivated by the harsh words, the Warriors lost their next game, at home to New Orleans, by only six points. They finished with a remarkable 40-point loss at Utah in which All-Stars Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all started.

Basketball state champs

Girls Division 4

1997 Rincon Valley Christian def. Christian (El Cajon), 53-38

1992 Ursuline def. Santa Ynez, 61-59

Boys Division 3

1984 Cloverdale def. Pasadena Poly, 53-52

1983 Cloverdale def. Crossroads (Santa Monica), 71-64

Basketball state title contenders

Girls Division 3

2000 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) def. Petaluma, 57-45

1992 Brea Olinda def. Healdsburg, 47-44

1991 Palos Verdes def. Healdsburg, 58-42

Boys Division 2

1998 Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) def. Montgomery, 61-52

Boys Division 4

2013 Pacific Hills (West Hollywood) def. Cardinal Newman, 58-52

2007 Campbell Hall (North Hollywood) def. Cardinal Newman, 70-34

1996 Washington Union (Fresno) def. Cardinal Newman, 56-42

1989 Santa Clara (Oxnard) def. Cardinal Newman, 62-49

Those opponents claim a variety of strengths and styles, but there are a few constants. All of them are young, certainly younger than the Warriors. All of them are athletic — and, more specifically, most have athletic big men who can get from one painted rectangle to the other in short order. And all were highly motivated as they jockeyed for seeds they hadn’t been expected to fill when the season began.

A profile takes shape. Down the stretch, the Warriors had been run off the court by a succession of young, fast, fiery, energetic teams. Those teams got most of the “50-50 balls,” sped by tired or uninterested Golden State defenders and turned lazy Warriors passes into points off of turnovers.

Of all the playoff teams in the West, the one that fits this bill the least is San Antonio.

The Spurs roster includes Manu Ginobili, who is 40; Pau Gasol, who is 37; and Tony Parker, who will be 36 next month. Minus Kawhi Leonard, who is out with a nearly season-long thigh injury, their best player is power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s 32. These guys don’t race past anybody. They play textbook basketball and methodically wear people down.

As Green put it: “I mean, they’re the Spurs. They don’t beat themselves, you have to beat them. And they will allow you to beat yourself.”

He was being complimentary. Everyone wearing Warriors gear offered similar praise Wednesday. And to be sure, San Antonio deserves respect. Popovich might be the greatest basketball coach in history. If the Warriors get sloppy with the ball, the Spurs will make them pay.

But everything in this series favors the Warriors. Their vulnerability lately has been on defense, yet the Spurs don’t have enough firepower to exploit it. Aldridge is crafty and proficient; he averaged 23.1 points per game this season. He also has a history of struggling against Green’s defense.

And with Leonard out, there is very little scoring punch after Aldridge. Or even scoring potential. The Spurs ran 97.1 possessions per game in 2017-18, ranking 29th among the 30 NBA teams. To call their pace “plodding” would be kind.

In short, the Spurs would be a threat to any team they can roughly approximate in talent, because you know Popovich will pull a few rabbits out of his beard. Alas, it’s a category that does not include the Warriors. The talent gap here is just too large.

And unlike some of those other potential foes, the Spurs do not enter the postseason on any sort of hot streak. The Jazz, for example, were 17-4 after March 1. The Pelicans won their last five by an average of 14 points. San Antonio, meanwhile, was 4-5 in its last nine games, spicing the soup, Warriors-like, with a final 122-98 loss at New Orleans.

Before the Warriors built a potential dynasty, the Spurs were the NBA’s gold standard. Now they’re just the old standard. Instead of answering the bell and getting punched right in the solar plexus, the Warriors can use the first round to find their stride and wait for Curry to get healthy. They’ll need all of their skills to win another championship this year. But to get through the first round, all they needed was the luck of the draw.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Skinny_Post.

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