It was just last week that the Golden State Warriors demolished the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals. On Monday night, they delivered another statement of intent by routing the San Antonio Spurs, their closest competition in the Western Conference, 120-90.

Unsurprisingly, Stephen Curry dominated with 37 points in three quarters of work; even more impressive, however, was the ease with which he beat Kawhi Leonard, the reigning defensive player of the year. After the game, though, Curry was quick to downplay the significance of the occasion.

“No moment’s too big, obviously,” he said. “We know this is just another regular-season game, but there was some hype around it. Every time we have an opportunity to prove who we are and take another step in the journey, we’re ready for it. It wasn’t always that way. This core has been together for a while and understands how to mentally prepare for nights like this.”

San Antonio played uncharacteristically sloppy basketball and was hurt by the absence of Tim Duncan, who sat out with knee soreness. Leonard led the team with 16 points, but that was far from enough. “They outplayed us in every single aspect of the game,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “Aggression was one.” Even Spurs coach Gregg Popovich acknowledged that the game had a different feeling than an ordinary regular season contest. “It’s the two teams with the best record. Playing it up would seem to be logical to me,” he said. “We feel different going against a team that’s the best team in the league. I get butterflies in my gut and excited about the game and all that sort of thing. I don’t feel like that every night.”  But, when push came to shove, the Warriors proved they were the class of the West once again. “It was like men and boys out there tonight,” Popovich concluded.   

Photo: Golden State Warrior’s Stephen Curry

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