-- OAKLAND, Calif. -- Fans expecting an epic showdown between the NBA's best should be in for a treat Thursday night, as the San Antonio Spurs -- who traditionally rest players once postseason seeding is secured -- will utilize their core group when they face the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
"Everybody's playing," coach Gregg Popovich confirmed about 90 minutes before tipoff.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker expected Popovich to rest key players during Monday's 88-86 win over the Utah Jazz, but the coach utilized the majority of the roster, and five players ( Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili and Kyle Anderson) scored in double figures. Popovich's actions changed Parker's opinion of how the coach would approach Thursday night's showdown between the top two teams in the league.
The Spurs and Warriors play again Sunday in San Antonio, and Popovich indicated he would play his regulars for that game, too.
Popovich has said on numerous occasions that he wants to strike a balance between resting players and being careful to not decondition them while maintaining their rhythm headed into the postseason. Having rested the entire roster for significant stretches lately, the Spurs believe playing their core group Thursday night will enhance the team's chances of maintaining momentum and rhythm heading into the postseason.
Here's a snapshot of how San Antonio has rested the roster:
Mar. 28: Duncan, Parker and Ginobili continued to rest while Leonard sat out another contest due to the quadriceps injury. Veteran power forward David West suited up but didn't play in the team's win at Memphis.
Apr. 5: The trio of Miller, Martin and Marjanovic rested again in the team's win at Utah. A day prior, the Spurs announced Diaw would miss due to right adductor soreness. The team left Diaw in San Antonio for this latest three-game road trip and will re-evaluate him in advance of Sunday's game against the Warriors.
For San Antonio, rest time comes to a close, as organizationally -- after plenty of internal discussion -- the club is at the point of trying to peak headed into the postseason, as opposed to losing momentum and rhythm by resting players. That's not to say the Spurs won't rest players over the next four games, as they close out the regular season.
The Spurs head to Denver after Thursday's game for a matchup Friday against the Nuggets. No decisions have been made regarding how the team plans to deploy the players for that game, but the plan is to re-evaluate the situation after the matchup against the Warriors before moving forward in Denver, sources said.
Traditionally, the Spurs like to rest players in the second games of back-to-back sets, and the club is bracing for a difficult travel situation, as it will lose an hour upon arrival in Denver.