DALLAS — The immediate future for the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks is secure, leaving the teams’ Friday night matchup at American Airlines Center void of any drama.
The Spurs (60-18) are locked into the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The final four games of the regular season are nothing more than tune-ups, with rest and recovery the key.
San Antonio was without two key contributors Wednesday in a 102-95 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Starting guard Danny Green and sixth man Manu Ginobili were nursing quadriceps injuries.
Green and Ginobili already have been ruled out for the Mavs game. Joining them in street clothes will be LaMarcus Aldridge (rest), Pau Gasol (rest), Kawhi Leonard (rest) and Dejounte Murray (left groin).
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that he is not planning to overplay anyone as it makes little sense in the long run. That should be expected from the coach who popularized the practice of resting important players throughout the regular season.
“We’re going to be playing some teams that are playing for seeding,” Gasol said. “The Clippers, Utah playing for four or five (seed), and Portland just trying to get in. So I think those teams are going to approach those games as a playoff game and we have to utilize those opportunities to meet that intensity and approach it the same way.”
The Mavericks (32-46) were long ago eliminated from playoff contention, missing the postseason for the second time since 2001. Dallas experienced an uptick after a horrid start, but now it is all about preparing for next season and picking up more lottery ping-pong balls.
“Obviously, when you start a season 3-17 or 4-17, you’re behind the 8-ball,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “So there’s always a possibility in the back of your mind, but we kept fighting. You got to give the boys credit. With how many injuries we had this year, and still we try to fight and make runs.
“Just overall, not consistent enough here and there. Then we dropped some at home that we should have won, and that kind of sealed the deal for us there. So overall, just not consistent enough. We had some great halves, we had some great games, some great wins on the season so far. Just overall not consistent enough.”
The Mavs dug themselves in an early hole Wednesday in a 112-101 setback at the Los Angeles Clippers.
“We have to do a better job starting off games,” Dallas forward Harrison Barnes said. “We put ourselves in a hole. Commend the second unit for coming in there, giving us energy.”
Despite trailing the season series 2-1 and being generally dominated by the Spurs in recent years, the last matchup was a good memory for Dallas. The Mavericks snapped a seven-game losing streak in the overall series with a 105-101 comeback win in January.
It also ended a Spurs’ run of 117 straight wins at home when leading by least 10 points at the half. Dallas had also lost 12 in a row in San Antonio going back to 2010.
Despite the loss, San Antonio still won 21 of the last 26 regular-season matchups, including three straight and seven of the last nine in Dallas.