In a game with implications to the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, the Warriors and Spurs will turn to skeleton crews for a national TV game Saturday in San Antonio.
Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson will watch from the bench when the Warriors (52-13) take the court at AT&T Center. With the team at the end of a stretch during which it played five games in seven days, on both coasts, coach Steve Kerr opted to rest all four players.
The Spurs (50-14) roster is light for completely different reasons. Starting forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, as well as starting point guard Tony Parker, will be sidelined due to injuries and health reasons.
Though the Warriors currently hold the overall No. 1 seed, which grants homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, a San Antonio victory would pull the Spurs within a half-game.
Spurs by 11
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Shaun Livingston vs. Patty Mills: In a game with such emaciated rosters, it’ll be up to the point guards to set the tone. With Mills at a seven-inch height disadvantage, the Spurs likely will cross match on defense and turn to Danny Green. Expect Ian Clark to be the primary defender on Mills. Just as Mills will try to outwork the defense, this is a chance for Livingston to force mismatches and exploit them.
Warriors: G Stephen Curry (rest), F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise), F Draymond Green (rest), F Andre Iguodala (rest) and G Klay Thompson (rest) are listed as out.
Spurs: F LaMarcus Aldridge (heart arrhythmia), F Kawhi Leonard (concussion protocol), G Dejounte Murray (L groin tightness) and G Tony Parker (back stiffness) are listed as out.
Warriors C Damian Jones was recalled Saturday morning from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
Warriors: 6-4. Spurs: 9-1.
The Warriors lost the first meeting this season, 129-100, on Oct. 25 at Oracle Arena, but have won four of the last seven. The Warriors last April 10 won in San Antonio for the first time since Feb. 14, 1997, spanning 33 consecutive losses.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
THE COACHES: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the master, and the man who invented the concept of resting players. Kerr, a disciple of Popovich, is relatively new at this but has learned quickly. Suddenly, it’s an altogether different kind of chess match, one without the usual potency. How close to the vest will they play it?
THE SUBS: With so many All-Stars out, substitute starters and reserves will be pivotal. Manu Ginobili, 39, is still going for the Spurs. Ex-Warrior David Lee is having a solid season, and Jonathon Simmons hurt the Warriors on opening night. The Warriors will need unexpected production from veterans (Matt Barnes or David West) as well as the youngsters (Pat McCaw, James Michael McAdoo, Kevon Looney).
THE BIG MEN: Suddenly, veteran big man Pau Gasol is the most prolific scorer for San Antonio. He is capable from both the high and low post. Expect the Warriors to lean on Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and West. Gasol will get minutes at center, in which case McGee will have chances to outrun him at both ends.