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Preview: Warriors host Spurs amidst aggressive load management

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LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are out for rest in this matchup between Golden State and San Antonio.

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs

The Golden State Warriors are looking good as they saunter into the All Star break. Just five games left on their calendar before some of our guys head to Charlotte for various All Star activities, and the rest of the team goes... anywhere else, for some well-earned “load management.”

But not yet. After having their season-best 11-game win streak broken by the upstart Philadelphia 76ers, the Warriors will hop right back into action tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs, who are fighting for a playoff spot of their own, have gone full Popovich and will be resting their two best players against the defending champs on a nationally televised ESPN game. If you’ll recall, it was the Spurs and Warriors dueling rest schedules that prompted the NBA to issue a memo last season.

Game Details

WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs

WHEN: Wednesday, February 6; 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

WATCH: NBCSA, ESPN

RADIO: 95.7 The Game

Spurs are resting

This is game two of the Spurs annual eight-game “rodeo trip” (yes, really a rodeo takes over their arena, because Texas). They lost the first game — a 112 - 127 shellacking at the hands of the quick, young Sacramento Kings — and things aren’t looking too rosy for game two of their trip either.

The Spurs announced that they are essentially conceding this game — hoping some weird “we got nothin’ to lose” energy might somehow lead them to victory against the champs.

Can the Warriors maintain focus and effort?

Without their main threats, expect this game to eventually go against the San Antonio Spurs. But this is exactly the sort of ho-hum game that the Warriors can’t let slip by.

So far this season, they’ve been excellent at handling business against even the bad, or injured teams. Looking through the game logs now, there really aren’t any losses that are impossible to understand. No stupid dropped games against short-handed or underwhelming opponents. A win now means just as much as one in the last week of the season, so hopefully the Warriors don’t play down to their opponents. If nothing else, Greg Popovich runs a well-taught team. Though they may not have their top talent, they will still run sets and defend well enough to require all most of the Warriors’ attention.

Demarcus Cousins’ allotment of minutes

As per ESPN, the star feels ready for an increase in minutes, but Kerr and the Warriors coaching staff is reticent to push him much out beyond the standard rotation. Right now, it appears as if the team has him slotted in for 20-25 minutes per game — with 25 looking a whole lot like a hard cap when you check out his minutes played.

Here he is discussing his desire to play more minutes, and his frustration from getting pulled out of a game where he had it rolling.

“Me and Steve are bumping heads with this minutes restriction,” Cousins noted to reporters with a wide grin on his face. “It’s a process and you go through it. We’re still trying to figure it out and do what’s best for me and my body. It (stinks), especially when you get involved in the game and your emotions are going. My emotions are always in the game. It just feels like every time I’m at that turning point of being myself, (I hear,) ‘Let’s go sit down on the sidelines.’”

The Warriors will likely play this with extreme caution, but keep an eye on his minutes because the team will eventually want more than 25 minutes out of Cousins, if they can get away with it.

Cousins has been fantastic so far.

Player movement and the impending trade deadline

Let’s be honest, big-name free agents potentially changing teams is a bit more riveting than wondering when Cousins will start playing 30 minutes per game. So far, there has been a whole lot of smoke, but no fire. Okay, maybe some small campfires are going.

Lebron James seems to have sacrificed any semblance of team unity by lusting after big name free agents. As we’ve seen in the past though, these things don’t always work out. The Lakers found a much less coveted player than Anthony Davis, but hey, they’re making moves!

Also, it looks like the Memphis Grizzlies have finally blinked. Marc Gasol is on the move, and will presumably be that Center that Kemba Walker has always deserved. Gasol is hampered by his knees, but much like Andrew Bogut did when he came to the Warriors, Gasol will bring the veteran experience and leadership that can fundamentally help catapult a team.

Prediction

Even at full strength, the Spurs have the 21st ranked defense, which may be inadequate against the Warriors’ league-leading offense. If the Warriors get rolling and then bring in Demarcus Cousins for mop up duty? It’s all over but the cryin’!

Warriors 123 - Spurs 108