Programming note: Warriors-Spurs coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
Editor's note: The above video is from May 20, 2014.
OAKLAND – The Warriors have a simple goal Tuesday night. They want to avoid embarrassing themselves.
And nobody will put more energy into achieving that than coach Steve Kerr.
The game features the Warriors (5-1) against the defending champion Spurs (3-3). The Warriors are succeeding despite themselves, as turnovers come in bunches, but realize that formula won't beat San Antonio, the team they aspire to be.
Moreover, though, the game within the game has Kerr facing his most influential mentor, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Kerr spent four seasons as a player under Popovich in San Antonio, earning two championship rings.
Every student wants to impress the teacher he likes and respects most.
"It's extremely meaningful, just with what I owe 'Pop' for what he did for me and my career," Kerr said after shootaround Tuesday morning. "I can't even begin to thank him. What I've learned from him, just the friendship that goes on.
"He's one of the most amazing human beings I've ever met. He's an incredible leader, a great coach, and a hilarious guy. He's one of my all-time favorites. It's going to be really strange looking down the other sideline at him."
Though Kerr cites three major influences on his coaching style, Popovich is the only one he can oppose. Phil Jackson is in the Knicks front office, unlikely to coach again, and Kerr's former college coach, Lute Olson, is retired.
So "Pop," who counseled Kerr as he chose between job offers extended by the Warriors and Knicks, is the only teacher Kerr can impress in the heat of competition.
"Once I took the job, we were rivals," Kerr said. "He wasn't going to tell me what to do with this team."
And if the Warriors, who lead the league in turnovers (22.3 per game), go out and commit a couple dozen against the Spurs, well, it likely means a second consecutive loss for the team, with Kerr feeling as if he's back in the classroom.
In which case the rookie coach will remember something Popovich told him:
"He said, 'You'll learn as you go,' which I am," Kerr recalled. "And I've got lots more to learn."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Tony Parker -- This is yet another battle between two All-Star point guards, with the winner greatly enhancing his team's chance at victory. The easiest way for Curry to dominate is if Popovich decides to rest Parker.
Klay Thompson vs. Kawhi Leonard -- If Thompson (sprained right hand) plays, and he likely will, Leonard likely gets the assignment. Thompson is a tough cover for anybody, but Leonard may be the league's top wing defender.
Andrew Bogut vs. Tim Duncan -- Whether Duncan plays (and he probably won't) will be revealed shortly before game time. If he does, Bogut will have his hands full. If he does not, Bogut and the Warriors get a major break.
Warriors – F David Lee (strained left hamstring) is out indefinitely and will be reexamined the week of Nov. 16. G Klay Thompson (strained right hand/wrist) is questionable.
Spurs: G Marco Belinelli (strained right groin) is doubtful, G Patty Mills (right shoulder surgery) and C Tiago Splitter (right calf strain) are out.
The Warriors were 0-4 against San Antonio in 2013-14 and have lost 52 of the last 60 meetings with the Spurs.