-- 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.
Coach Gregg Popovich has said on numerous occasions that he wants to strike a balance between resting players and being careful not to decondition them while maintaining their rhythm heading into the postseason. Having rested the entire roster for significant stretches lately, he said playing the core group Thursday night would enhance the team's chances of maintaining momentum and rhythm heading into the postseason.
"Everybody's going to play," Popovich confirmed about 90 minutes before tipoff. "It has really nothing to do with who we're playing. It's about the minutes. We check minutes all year long, the minutes that they've had during the season. [With] the back-to-backs, the schedule recently, we just rested some guys about a week, week-and-a-half ago. At this point, you want to have that rest. We're an older team. But at the same time, sure, we worry about deconditioning and rhythm just like everybody talks about."
The Spurs and Warriors play again Sunday in San Antonio, and Popovich indicated that he would play his regulars for that game too.
"When Golden State comes back to us, we'll play that game [in] full also because we're going to sit everybody in Denver [on Friday]," Popovich said. "We don't want to sit them two nights in a row going into the playoffs. That doesn't make much sense, so that's how it came about. No matter who we're playing tomorrow, we'd sit them -- doesn't matter. The opponent is not the thing. It's about minutes and time managed and all that sort of stuff.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker expected Popovich to rest key players during Monday's 88-86 win over the Utah Jazz, but Popovich utilized the majority of the roster, and five players ( Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili and Kyle Anderson) scored in double figures.
Up until that game, Popovich had rested all of his veterans at some point during the previous two weeks.
Here's a snapshot of when:
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.