Gameday Preview: Spurs @ Warriors: 4/16/13
The San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors are both headed to the playoffs, but seeding in the Western Conference is still at stake with two games to play.
Both teams may be more concerned with generating some momentum heading into the postseason.
The Spurs will know if the West's top seed is still viable Monday night, while trying to continue their dominance of the Golden State Warriors and avoid their longest single-season road losing streak in over 16 years.
San Antonio (58-22) is one game back of Oklahoma City for the West's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but the Thunder hold the tiebreaker as they try to sweep the three-game season series with Sacramento earlier Monday.
That may leave the Spurs to focus on snapping a six-game road losing streak, during which they're averaging 88.0 points while shooting 40.3 percent. They haven't endured a longer skid as the visitor in a single season since dropping eight in a row from Jan. 7-Feb. 6, 1997.
Sunday's 91-86 road defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers may have cost them the top seed. Tim Duncan was one of the few bright spots with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Tony Parker went 1 for 10 from the field and finished with four points, eight assists and four turnovers.
"I just thought we sort of floated through the game," Gregg Popovich said. "Duncan was great, as usual. He's really the only guy on the team that played like somebody who wanted to win a championship."
Duncan is averaging 22.6 points while San Antonio has dropped three of five, but Parker has missed two of those games with a sore neck and Manu Ginobili has been sidelined for eight straight due to a strained right hamstring.
"We're two games away from the playoffs, and Manu is still not here, Tony is still finding his rhythm," Duncan said. "We're not scoring at the rate we need to, but we're a veteran team, and we're confident we can get it together."
The remaining schedule may offer some comfort. After facing the Warriors (45-35) in what may be a first-round playoff preview, the Spurs will host Minnesota on Wednesday, and they've won 16 in a row at home against the Timberwolves.
San Antonio has also dominated Golden State, winning 17 of the past 18 matchups while averaging 111.4 points. However, the Spurs had a seven-game winning streak at Oracle Arena snapped in the most recent visit Feb. 22, when they fell 107-101 in overtime.
The Warriors, who conclude the season at Portland on Wednesday, are tied with Houston for the sixth seed, but the Rockets own the tiebreaker and visit conference-worst Phoenix before facing the Lakers.
Golden State is sputtering down the stretch, losing three of four after also falling on the road to the Lakers, 118-116 on Friday.
"We don't want to relax. We can't afford to do that right now," guard Stephen Curry said. "This is a big game for us to bounce back after two tough losses. It's good preparation to know that every game means something for our seeding, and for our state of mind going into the playoffs."
Curry is doing his part. He scored 47 while hitting 9 of 15 from beyond the arc Friday and is averaging 28.8 points over the last four games.
He's also closing in on the NBA record for 3-pointers made in a season, sitting eight behind the record of 269 set by Ray Allen in 2005-06.
"To be in that conversation like the season he had in '06, that is special," said Curry, who has totaled 43 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the perimeter in two games versus San Antonio this season.
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