The San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors play two more games against each other during the regular season, but Spurs guard Tony Parker doesn't expect head coach Gregg Popovich to use his best lineup in either matchup.
Speaking on his French radio show (as translated Tuesday via Jeff Garcia of News 4 San Antonio), Parker believes Popovich's focus over the regular season's final two weeks will be making sure the Spurs are healthy for the postseason:
I think no one will play (versus the Warriors). To Pop (Gregg Popovich), the most important thing is that the players are rested for the playoffs. As for first place, he does not care.
For us, the end of the regular season is a good time to rest. That's why we play hard throughout the season, trying to win the most games possible, to find ourselves in this situation of "luxury," we are sure we will be the second seed and we can all rest before the playoffs.
The Spurs and the Warriors have already split their first two games this season, with the Spurs holding the Warriors to a season-low 79 points in San Antonio on March 19. Their next matchup is at Oracle Arena on April 7, followed by a fourth and final showdown at AT&T Center on April 10.
Conventional wisdom would seem to give the Spurs an incentive to go for wins in both games. They are currently 62-12, five games behind Golden State for the top seed in the Western Conference. It's certainly a long shot the Spurs would be able to catch the Warriors, but if they do rest everyone, it becomes a virtual impossibility.
However, Popovich has never shown an interest in making sure the Spurs have home-court advantage. Parker even addressed that, saying, "The most important thing for him (Popovich) is to win the NBA title. The record at home or games against Golden State, is not what interests him."
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com on March 28 that Popovich's strategy makes sense: "They’re locked into the No. 2 spot and there’s no danger of anybody catching them from behind. And they’re not trying to set any records. I will be interested to see if they rest guys at home. Do they want to go undefeated at home?"
The Spurs currently own a 37-0 home record this season and have won 46 straight home games dating back to last March. It's a nice record to have, but Popovich knows it's a hollow mark if his team doesn't win a championship.
Even though fans might be aggravated at potentially not getting a chance to see the Warriors and the Spurs at their best in the regular season, it seems likely those two teams will do battle in the postseason to determine the Western Conference champion.