The Warriors enter Game 4 of the Western Conference finals trying to do what the Cleveland Cavaliers were unable to do: Remain undefeated in the playoffs. If they win, they'll clinch a third straight trip to the NBA Finals.
San Antonio is down 3-0 and has struggled to keep pace with the Warriors since the first half of Game 1, so we could be looking at a long, appreciative standing ovation from the San Antonio crowd Monday night as the Spurs leave the court for the last time this season.
Here are some things to watch for in Game 4.
It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would play Kawhi Leonard on a gimpy ankle with his team down 3-0 ... and that's exactly why he might do it. Pop, who has already said , has been known to zig when everyone else zags. Making things tough on the Warriors and trying to give his fans one last home playoff win might be reason enough for him to let the NBA MVP finalist suit up.
Losing is overrated
With the Cavs' loss Sunday, Golden State is now the only undefeated team left in the playoffs. If the Warriors complete the sweep of the Spurs on Monday, they'll go to 12-0 and remain in the running to become the first team to finish the postseason 16-0. Sure, a sweep against the Cavs (or Celtics!?!?) is unlikely, but it's still in the cards. The last team to start the postseason 12-0 was the 2001 Lakers, who lost the first game of the NBA Finals to Allen Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers. Cavs coach Tryonn Lue surely remembers it well, because he had the best seat in the house.
Spurs gonna Spurs
They're down 3-0. They likely won't have Leonard or David Lee. They're playing one of the greatest NBA teams ever assembled. But if Dejounte Murray commits a dumb turnover with the Spurs down by 20 in the third quarter, you better believe Popovich is going to be screaming and stomping his feet. Sure the series might not have turned out the way they had hoped, but the Spurs won't stop playing hard for a second of Game 4, and Popovich won't stop coaching his team hard.
Say it ain't so, Manu
If the Spurs do end up losing, it could be the last time we get to see Manu Ginobili play -- in the NBA at least ... you know Manu will be schooling teenagers somewhere in Argentina until he's 85 years old. Ginobili has seen more playing time since Tony Parker went down with an injury in the first round, and has produced some of the most memorable moments of the playoffs. He has already said that the outcome of the series will have nothing to do with his decision on whether he'll retire, but make sure you pay close attention just in case. If it is the last ride, we sure will miss you, Manu.
Please, stay healthy
Look, the Spurs aren't winning this series. The only saving grace for this uninspiring postseason (Kevin Durant says Zaza Pachulia (questionable for Game 4) and Andre Iguodala (probable) are already struggling with nagging injuries, but there will be plenty of time for them to heal during the extended layoff before the NBA Finals start June 1. Let's hope Golden State can enter the Finals as healthy as possible.... fair enough) is that they're likely going to end with the matchup we all wanted -- the rubber match between the Cavs and the Warriors. So please, Warriors, don't go and do anything stupid like getting Stephen Curry or Durant hurt. This NBA playoffs can't handle it, and the fans might honestly riot.