ESPN’s NBA Playoffs coverage continues tonight (10:30 p.m. ET) with Game 6 of the San Antonio Spurs-Golden State Warriors Western Conference Semifinals series. With the Spurs up 3-2 in the series, the host Warriors must win tonight to force Game 7. ESPN analyst, Basketball Hall of Famer and Warriors legend Chris Mullin will be courtside to provide commentary for ESPN Radio. As a player, Mullin led the Warriors to five playoff appearances between 1987 and 1994.
This week, he joined colleague and ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen, whose extraordinary defense helped lead the Spurs to three championships between 2003 and 2007, to preview the Game 6 showdown in Oakland, Calif. Despite the storied history that both men have with their respective teams, Mullin and Bowen said they have no trouble remaining impartial as analysts.
“I don’t have an emotional connection,” said Mullin. “You get that from the day-to-day preparation as well as the highs and the lows your team deals with throughout the season. I find it is easy to analyze with a neutral perspective. And I can certainly sleep easier after the games.”
“Just because I have an affiliation, I don’t allow that to sway my thought process considering any team,” said Bowen. “We’re giving an opinion from the players’ perspectives. Knowing the organization the way we do, in some cases, it makes it easier to say they need to do a better job in certain areas. It is really such a delicate job. You don’t want people to ever feel that your judgment could be clouded.”
Mullin’s Keys for the Warriors:[Center] Andrew Bogut has been a difference-maker in their wins. In Game 5, he looked passive. He may have tweaked his ankle. They need Bogut on the boards and to be a defensive presence. He guards [Spurs center] Tim Duncan one-on-one very well. Bogut also intimidates and protects the rim when he is engaged.
I believe the Warriors have to have better games from [guards] Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They need to free them up better and find them in early transition to get better shots. They have to keep turnovers down. The Warriors rely on their offense to get their energy and effort on defense. They need to get shots on each possession.
Bowen’s Keys for the Spurs:
San Antonio has experience being in situations like this and they have had success. Golden State is in uncharted waters. With the exception of the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter, San Antonio has played even better at Golden State than it has at home in the first two games. I believe that letdown in the fourth quarter is what will allow San Antonio to win Game 6 in Oakland. The Spurs know they didn’t play complete games. They want to go out and redeem themselves.
Defending is always the No. 1 key for the Spurs. They’ve been able to really zone in on Klay and Steph to limit their effectiveness. What they have to be aware of is someone else having a big game — a guy like [Warriors forward] Harrison Barnes. They have to pay attention to detail with Barnes and go from there.