OAKLAND -– The Warriors breathed not even the slightest sigh of relief upon hearing San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich had ruled big man Tim Duncan out of the highly anticipated Warriors-Spurs battle Monday night at Oracle Arena.
“I don’t think it changes anything at all,” a surprised Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after practice Sunday.
“They’re so deep at that position, with (David) West and (LaMarcus) Aldridge both capable of sliding over. It doesn’t change the coverage.”
Besides, Kerr noted, Duncan is at the stage of his career when down time is valuable.
“Tim is 57 years old,” Kerr joked, “so he deserves a night off every once in a while.”
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Duncan in reality is 39 years old (he turns 40 in April). His career began in 1997. It just seems as if he’s been tormenting NBA opponents forever.
His absence means the Warriors won’t get the “full” Spurs team that has won 13 consecutive games and 20 of its last 21. West, who on Friday night started in place of Aldridge (back spasms) against the Lakers, likely will replace Duncan on Monday. The Spurs are 9-0 with West in the starting lineup.
Duncan’s absence punches a hole in one of the many storylines attached to the game, that with the Warriors and the Spurs last playing on Friday would eliminate the “rest” option both teams sometimes utilize.
That Duncan is sidelined with right knee soreness means only that the Spurs will suit up one less future Hall of Famer.
The Warriors know the Spurs well enough to realize that the news of Tim Duncan being sidelined for the game Monday night is not to be perceived as a sign of San Antonio surrender.
“I didn’t think that he would sit,” Draymond Green said. “But that’s kind of the motto they’ve followed over the last four or five years. It’s worked, so I don’t think anyone questions it.”