Spurs-Warriors Preview

The San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors are both headed

to the playoffs, but seeding in the Western Conference is still at

stake with two games to play.

It appears San Antonio isn’t concerned with where it ends

up.

The Spurs will know if the West’s top seed is still viable

Monday night, but they’ve decided to rest Tony Parker, Tim Duncan

and Kawhi Leonard as they try to continue their dominance of the

Golden State Warriors and avoid their longest single-season road

losing streak in over 16 years.

San Antonio (58-22) is one game back of Oklahoma City for the

West’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but the Thunder hold the

tiebreaker as they try to sweep the three-game season series with

Sacramento earlier Monday.

That may leave the Spurs to focus on snapping a six-game road

losing streak, during which they’re averaging 88.0 points while

shooting 40.3 percent. They haven’t endured a longer skid as the

visitor in a single season since dropping eight in a row Jan.

7-Feb. 6, 1997.

Sunday’s 91-86 road defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers may have

cost them the top seed. Duncan was one of the few bright spots with

23 points and 10 rebounds, while Parker went 1 for 10 from the

field and finished with four points, eight assists and four

turnovers.

“I just thought we sort of floated through the game,” coach

Gregg Popovich said. “Duncan was great, as usual. He’s really the

only guy on the team that played like somebody who wanted to win a

championship.”

Duncan is averaging 22.6 points while San Antonio has dropped

three of five, but Parker has missed two of those games with a sore

neck and Manu Ginobili has been sidelined for eight straight due to

a strained right hamstring.

Those three will all sit Monday night.

“We’re two games away from the playoffs, and Manu is still not

here, Tony is still finding his rhythm,” Duncan said. “We’re not

scoring at the rate we need to, but we’re a veteran team, and we’re

confident we can get it together.”

The remaining schedule may offer some comfort. After facing the

Warriors (45-35) in what may be a first-round playoff preview, the

Spurs will host Minnesota on Wednesday, and they’ve won 16 in a row

at home against the Timberwolves.

San Antonio has also dominated Golden State, winning 17 of the

past 18 matchups while averaging 111.4 points. However, the Spurs

had a seven-game winning streak at Oracle Arena snapped in the most

recent visit Feb. 22, when they fell 107-101 in overtime.

The Warriors, who conclude the season at Portland on Wednesday,

are tied with Houston for the sixth seed, but the Rockets own the

tiebreaker and visit conference-worst Phoenix before facing the

Lakers.

Golden State is sputtering down the stretch, losing three of

four after also falling on the road to the Lakers, 118-116 on

Friday.

“We don’t want to relax. We can’t afford to do that right now,”

guard Stephen Curry said. “This is a big game for us to bounce back

after two tough losses. It’s good preparation to know that every

game means something for our seeding, and for our state of mind

going into the playoffs.”

Curry is doing his part. He scored 47 while hitting 9 of 15 from

beyond the arc Friday and is averaging 28.8 points over the last

four games.

He’s also closing in on the NBA record for 3-pointers made in a

season, sitting eight behind the record of 269 set by Ray Allen in

2005-06.

“To be in that conversation like the season he had in ’06, that

is special,” said Curry, who has totaled 43 points on 7-of-17

shooting from the perimeter in two games versus San Antonio this

season.