Warriors to rest stars for crucial showdown with Spurs

Timberwolves centre Karl-Anthony Towns protecting the ball from Warriors star Draymond Green in the NBA on Friday. Minnesota won 103-102.
Timberwolves centre Karl-Anthony Towns protecting the ball from Warriors star Draymond Green in the NBA on Friday. Minnesota won 103-102.PHOTO: REUTERS

MINNEAPOLIS (Minnesota) • The much-anticipated showdown between the top two teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) this morning (Singapore time) is set to be a damp squib.

Golden State Warriors (52-13) coach Steve Kerr will rest Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala against Western Conference rivals San Antonio Spurs (50-14).

"Those guys are all playing big minutes, and this will give them three days before our home game (against the Philadelphia 76ers) and then we'll have a whole week at home next week and a chance to get recharged," said Kerr after a 102-103 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

"It's the right thing to do in terms of the way the season is playing out and the way the minutes have gone and (Kevin Durant's) injury."

He seems to believe the Sixers game is more important, given their next games against Orlando and Milwaukee could prove too tough and take a toll on All-Stars Curry, Thompson and Green.

The Warriors are 11/2 games ahead of the Spurs and could slip up in the race for the No. 1 overall seed - and home court advantage throughout the play-offs - if they lose this morning. But, as ESPN reported, Kerr still wants the top seed - he just does not want to run his guys "too ragged" just to get it.

The Warriors are 2-4 since Durant went down with a knee injury on Feb 28, and they have looked little like the seemingly invincible group in search of a third straight trip to the NBA Finals, noted ESPN.

Perhaps this could be down to the schedule. They are at the tail end of a stretch of eight games in eight different cities in 13 days. Kerr consulted with his staff on which game to rest the Warriors' big players and they all settled on San Antonio.

The Spurs will be short-handed too. Leading scorer Kawhi Leonard is out after being entered in the NBA's concussion protocol. Point guard Tony Parker is questionable because of a stiff back.

Kerr's decision will likely upset the fans and the league. The NBA recently signed a US$24 billion (S$33.88 billion) TV contract that is built on showcasing its biggest stars.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Warriors to rest stars for crucial showdown with Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe