Published January 13, 2015
The San Antonio Spurs have been home resting for more than a week since they swept the Los Angeles Lakers. Now, they face the upstart Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals, starting Monday in the Alamo City.
The rest has been welcome for the Spurs.
"It's been good. We're taking advantage of it," said the venerable Tim Duncan. "We're using the time to rest up. You don't want to lose the rhythm. We're practicing hard."
The Spurs faced the Lakers without Kobe Bryant and without Steve Nash for two of the four games. The Lakers pounded it inside to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, but now the up-tempo Warriors await. They are younger than the Lakers and try to get out and run the floor.
"The pace is going to be different than the last team we played," Duncan said. "It's going to take a little while."
Golden State beat the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in six games in the first round. The clincher came Thursday night in front of a raucous crowd at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors haven't advanced to this point in the postseason since 2007. They haven't won two series in the playoffs since winning the NBA title after the 1974-75 season. In fact, they haven't taken more than a game in this round of the playoffs since 1977.
"This is a scrappy group," said Golden State coach Mark Jackson. "I'm extremely blessed to be in this position. That's a special group. This is the greatest group of men I've ever been around as a team."
The Warriors and Spurs split the four regular-season matchups, with the home team winning each time. When Golden State beat the Spurs on Feb. 22, it snapped a 16-game losing streak to San Antonio.
It's worse for the Warriors in San Antonio. They've dropped 29 straight as the visitor in this series and their last victory in San Antonio came on Valentine's Day in 1997.
For some perspective, Warriors star guard Steph Curry was one month away from turning nine years old the last time Golden State won a game in San Antonio.
"What better time to change that," said Curry.
The Warriors won both games at home during the regular season, but lost seven straight before that.
"If I was picking this series, I'd give them the check mark," acknowledged Jackson. "It's a model organization. They've got three future Hall of Fame basketball players, a future Hall of Fame coach. It's going to be a tough task. They are clearly the favorite.
"It's going to be fun."