Timberwolves-Spurs Preview

Though the San Antonio Spurs may be closer to full strength and

have the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, this is not how Gregg

Popovich wanted his team to enter the playoffs.

Some may feel he’s partly to blame.

With San Antonio still reeling from Stephen Jackson’s sudden

departure, Popovich plans to play everyone available – even

possibly Manu Ginobili and newcomer Tracy McGrady – in the

regular-season finale Wednesday night against the Minnesota

Timberwolves.

Jackson being waived Friday by Popovich and Spurs management

about a week before the playoffs left many players shocked. Tony

Parker said at the time, “it’s a hard one, but it’s a big boss

decision,” and rumors have swirled that some teammates were unhappy

with the move, especially so late in the season.

Though nagging injuries played a role, Popovich has received

some criticism for throwing off continuity with his many lineup

changes, often giving veterans like Parker and Tim Duncan nights

off.

San Antonio (58-23) has lost six of nine, blowing a chance at

the West’s top seed – recently clinched by Oklahoma City. The Spurs

had lost just six of their previous 33 games before this slump,

which includes Monday’s 116-106 defeat at Golden State.

“We’ve been playing better almost any other year going into the

playoffs compared to this year,” Popovich said. “The health this

year, the different lineups all the time based on what’s happened

toward the latter part of the season is certainly a part of it. But

I also think our focus hasn’t been as good as it needs to be the

last three to four weeks. I’ve been disappointed in our focus.”

Parker has missed 12 of the last 21 games, and Kawhi Leonard has

missed three this month as he battles a sore knee. Popovich sat out

Parker, Duncan and Leonard on Monday because they all played the

previous night in a 91-86 loss to the Lakers.

“Everybody will play on Wednesday because it’s not a

back-to-back,” Popovich said. “What we’re doing tonight is what we

do. We’ve done it all year. We’ve done it for 17 years.”

This will mark McGrady’s 16th year in the NBA if he plays a day

after being signed. The former seven-time All-Star played in China

this season after seeing limited minutes for Atlanta in

2011-12.

Ginobili has missed the past nine games with a strained

hamstring and 22 this season due to injury. It’s possible he will

return Wednesday for a tuneup before San Antonio opens the playoffs

this weekend against Golden State or Houston.

Ginobili’s average of 11.9 points is his lowest since his

2002-03 rookie season, including 7.9 over his past eight games

while shooting 29.0 percent.

That poor stretch began at Minnesota on March 12 in these teams’

last meeting, scoring seven points on 2-of-10 shooting in a 107-83

loss. Parker, Duncan and Leonard all sat out while Ricky Rubio

notched his first triple-double for the Timberwolves with 21

points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.

Rubio, though, totaled 13 points on 3-of-19 shooting in the

first two meetings as the Spurs won both by double digits.

Minnesota has lost 16 in a row in San Antonio dating to Jan. 14,

2004.

The Timberwolves (30-51) have recorded their winningest season

since Kevin Garnett left in 2007, but there’s a chance this will be

Rick Adelman’s final game as their coach.

Adelman, eighth all-time with 1,001 wins, has considered

resigning due to his wife’s treatment for seizures. Her condition

caused him to miss 11 games earlier this season.

“I’m going to wait and see until we talk to the doctors and see

what direction they’ve decided we need to go at this point,”

Adelman said. “Then we’ll move from there.”