Spurs to start three-game trek against short-handed Warriors
The San Antonio Spurs are chasing the Oklahoma City Thunder for first place in the Western Conference, they have a great opportunity in getting close to that goal when they visit the short-handed and struggling Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on Monday night.
San Antonio (42-16) clinched their 18th division title, and ninth in 12 seasons with coach Gregg Popovich Saturday with an easy does it 105-91 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, didn't play during the final period and for much of the second half. None of San Antonio's 13 active players logged more than 25 minutes.
Their latest win kept the Spurs one game back of the Thunder in the West -- they're even in the loss column -- but Duncan says his team is not obsessed with that race.
"We're going to end up where we end up. There's no reason to sit there and study it," he said. "We're going to play these games as best as we can.
"We're in a great position right now. Hopefully we can end on top. If we don't, hopefully we're number two and we're happy with that."
San Antonio will face a team that's lost three key players and traded away another last month.
David Lee is the latest Golden State starter who's likely out for the season. An MRI on Friday revealed the power forward has a strained groin and a stress reaction.
The Warriors (22-37) are already missing Andrew Bogut (ankle), and Stephen Curry (ankle).
Bogut was acquired in a deal that sent leading scorer Monta Ellis to Milwaukee on March 14, and Jefferson was shipped from San Antonio to Golden State the next day.
Ellis scored 38 points and Curry had 20 during a 101-95 loss in San Antonio on January 4, their only meeting this season.
Golden State is 4-16 since trading away Ellis and suffered its fourth straight loss Saturday, 112-104 at the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nate Robinson scored a season-high 28 points and was one of four Golden State players to top 20.
"We're undermanned and undersized, but we fought. There's no quit in us," said swingman Klay Thompson, who had 24 points for the second straight game. "We've been short-handed all year, so it's a learning experience, especially for us rookies."
Ginobili, who sat out the win in January with a broken left hand, has averaged 22.0 points on 52.9 percent shooting in his last five matchups against the Warriors.
Former Warriors guard Stephen Jackson, acquired in the Richard Jefferson deal after playing for Milwaukee, has scored at least 30 points in each of his last two games at Oracle Arena.
Andris Biedrins and former Spur Jefferson (knee) are listed as day-to-day by the Warriors.
The Spurs should keep their focus, and try to blow the game wide open early as they did against the Suns, to keep their starters fresh as they will play three straight games in three nights.
(Photo by D.Clarke Evans-NBAE via Getty Images)