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2013 NBA Playoffs: Heavy Minutes Taking a Toll on Golden State Warriors

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 08:  Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors takes a shot against Tim Duncan #21 and Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 8, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Martin TelleriaSenior Analyst IIIJune 26, 2016

It’s getting hard to figure out which team features the up-and-coming youngsters and which one boasts the old, grizzled veterans.

In the San Antonio Spurs’ 109-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors, it was the Spurs who seemed to have the legs to run for days while the Warriors ran out of gas.

It was evident on both ends of the court.

On offense, the sensational young duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson just could not buy a shot, combining for just 6-of-22 from the field for a measly 13 points. Yes, they might have just been out of rhythm. A different problem, however, could be the issue.

Fatigue.

Curry and Thompson have contributed 41.5 and 41.2 minutes, respectively, this postseason. For young players playing in the most extended season of their careers, that might just be too much.

It was evident on the defensive side of the ball as well. Time after time the Warriors’ young stars were late on their defensive rotations and closing out of shooters. This led to multiple uncontested buckets for San Antonio.

Obviously that can’t happen against a team as capable of making them pay as the Spurs.

In a series featuring squads so fundamentally different, it’s Mark Jackson who must take a play out of his counterpart’s playbook. Gregg Popovich is a master at keeping his players fresh, meticulously monitoring their minutes to ensure peak performance.

His legendary trio of veterans, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, have averaged 34.7, 36.0 and 25.7 minutes, respectively. As a result, they made the plays that mattered when needed most.

Of course it’s easy to blame the poor play of Curry on the nagging ankle injury he suffered in Game 3. And that could indeed be part of the problem. It’s becoming abundantly clear, however, that it’s the legs that have become the deeper issue. They just haven't been under his shot in the last couple games.

His normally silky-smooth jumper was anything but that, with the only form of consistency it found being hitting the rim.

Obviously it’s not going to be easy for Mark Jackson to find the right balance of playing time and rest for his stars. His team is so dependant on the contributions of Curry and Thompson.

If he wants them to have anything left in the tank for two elimination games, however, he’s going to have to figure it out quick. Otherwise the Spurs will continue to look like ageless wonders and the Warriors will continue to play as if they’re anchored to the ground. 

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