Both the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors have done a great job calling Monday night just another game.
Leading up to the evening, both sides have made it clear that they are taking this game as nothing more than any other regular season game. Regardless of whether the rest of the country agrees.
This is a duel that includes the best winning percentage of two teams having played or more games each. These are the two best teams in the association. And they boast two of the five best point differentials for a season in NBA history.
The Spurs’ recent run of dominance over the Warriors, especially in San Antonio, taking these head-to-head matchups makes it seem much more important than another win.
This game could go a long way in determining the home court advantage of a potential playoff game seven.
That fact does not escape Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, and he doesn’t pretend that it does:
“To me the biggest value (of this game) is the standings. Right now we’re neck and neck and I think home court is a big deal, especially if you end up with a game seven. That’s where I’ve always felt it matters the most.”
Kerr undoubtedly is not looking past any game leading up to a potential playoff matchup with his old team, but in preparation for the best possible case the long term goal is on his mind.
Though the coach doesn’t feel the dominance of the Spurs over his team, which spans more than 30 games, affects his team at all. In Kerr’s mind, the current rivalry began with a 2013 4-2 playoff series victory.
Despite several roster being different, most notably offensive minded big man LaMarcus Aldridge, Kerr feels the Spurs success is predicated on the same things it always has been:
“What they’re doing a great job of is just executing their offense like crazy, so they’re getting great shots. I’ve always felt that’s the most important thing.”
He went on to point, not just the offensive production helping the defense, but their willingness to sacrifice offensive rebounds to slow the opponents transition offense and control tempo.
Kerr’s plan to combat the Spurs consist of nothing more than staying true to the program that has given them the best record in the league:
“We have to find open shots. We have to generate good offensive possessions against the best defense in the league.”
One advantage that the home team will head into the tip knowing they’ll have is the fact that two-time MVP and 15-time all star Tim Duncan will be on the bench nursing a tender knee.
“The Big Fundamental,” who Kerr likens to his all-star point guard has made a career being a pain in the side of the Warriors averaging 20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in 58 matchups with the Dubs.
Keeping it light, though, Kerr added a bit of levity, saying in his press conference that he had just realized Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich was in his head. He jokingly added that it would be best if assistant coach Luke Walton should take the charge.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Warriors have feasted on a recent run of their own triumph, running rough shot over three consecutive playoff contenders. They will look to continue that hot streak.