Spurs’ dour dusk brings a abounding reward

No Stephen Curry. No Kawhi Leonard, many likely. But what an intriguing approach for a Warriors to start their playoff run. Photo: TOM REEL, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

As a wild, furious Western Conference finished a unchanging deteriorate in a kaleidoscope of madness, it came down to this for a Warriors and their first-round playoff matchup: They’d face possibly a group entering Wednesday night with a six-game winning streak, or one about to remove a eighth true on a road.

Chances are they elite a prohibited hand. That’s how many honour a San Antonio Spurs still lift in a NBA.

Because Denver couldn’t means that winning streak, holding a distressing 112-106 detriment in overtime during Minnesota, a Nuggets have totally vanished. They’ll be examination a playoffs from home. The Spurs couldn’t have been reduction considerable in their 122-98 detriment during New Orleans, though interjection to a impossibly difficult scenarios clouding a playoff picture, they’ve drawn a No. 7 seed and a date with Golden State. Game 1 of their first-round array will be Saturday during noon during Oracle Arena.

No Stephen Curry. No Kawhi Leonard, many likely. But what an intriguing approach for a Warriors to start their playoff run, with conduct manager Steve Kerr going opposite his longtime friend, Gregg Popovich, and a adversary in that a participants are closely familiar.

More by Bruce Jenkins

This matchup was done probable by a noted night during a Target Center in Minneapolis. It was a Timberwolves’ biggest diversion by distant given 2004, a final time they done a playoffs, and a vigour was excruciating. They built their group in win-now mode, adding Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague to a absolute component of youth, and they were widely foresee to finish among a conference’s tip 4 in a preseason previews.

It didn’t utterly work out that way, and with Wednesday night’s outcome in a balance, one couldn’t assistance though notice a inconsistency between a mentally fatigued Warriors, where a core position is a practical afterthought, and a Denver-Minnesota fight featuring dual healthy, unfortunate teams and dual of a best large group in a league.

Until a many revelation moments, it seemed that Denver’s Nikola Jokic would have a dilemma on Karl-Anthony Towns. Jokic had 35 points with 4 mins left, mostly appearing to measure during will, though he wouldn’t measure again. In a final seconds of regulation, Denver ran a hopeless-looking play that found Jokic hounded by Taj Gibson in a distant left corner, tossing adult a crazy shot that had no chance.

The overtime belonged mostly to Butler, who had been on a mins limitation (head manager Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t hold a number) in new games since of his liberation from knee surgery. But this was no dusk for caution. Butler logged 42 minutes, scored 31 points and gave a Houston Rockets something to contemplate in their arriving first-round matchup.

(The other array in a Western Conference: New Orleans-Portland and Utah-Oklahoma City.)

If San Antonio is a feared group streamer into Oakland, it’s formed particularly on reputation. The Spurs’ starters didn’t strike a singular three-point shot in a initial half in that New Orleans took a 61-43 lead. Checking a box measure was a joyless exercise, nothing of a Spurs station out, and Patty Mills was hold scoreless in 21 minutes. Popovich had a considerate postgame nod for New Orleans conduct manager Alvin Gentry and a few players, though he seemed many vigilant on removing off a court, carrying his prevalent potion of booze (or two) and permitting visions of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant to deposit into his thoughts.

Maybe a Warriors did wish Denver, low down. But it’s improved this way. You’d still take Popovich, LaMarcus Aldridge and those dear aged codgers, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, over Nokic, Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap and a Nuggets. It’s all about a theater, and for Golden State, it’s utterly a opening act.

Other important events from a night:

•Ex-Warriors ensure Ian Clark, who had missed dual games with an ankle injury, played 28 plain mins for a Pelicans, attack 5 of his 10 shots. Add Clark to a multiple of Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday, who teamed for 42 points on 20-for-28 shooting, and it was utterly a opening by a New Orleans backcourt.

•Russell Westbrook indispensable 16 rebounds in a Memphis-OKC diversion to normal a triple-double for a season. He had 18 by a late stages of a third entertain and finished with 20. What a phenomenal, historically good athlete.

•Potentially bad detriment for OKC: Corey Brewer, a late-season further who valid to be a pretty estimable deputy for harmed lockdown defender Andre Roberson, left a justice with an ominous-looking knee damage in a fourth quarter.

•ESPN’s Zach Lowe offering this on his Wednesday podcast after articulate with “several coaches and executives” from a Western Conference: “The fear cause for a Warriors but Curry does not exist. There are people who would say, ‘I would rather play a Warriors right now, in a initial round, than a Thunder or a Jazz.’ That’s a overpass too distant for me.”

Bruce Jenkins is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: bjenkins@sfchronicle.com Twitter @Bruce_Jenkins1

Warriors vs. Spurs

Sat.: during Warriors, noon, ABC

Mon.: during Warriors, 7:30 p.m. TNT/NBCSBA

Thurs.: during Spurs, 6:30 p.m. TNT/NBCSBA

April 22: during Spurs, 12:30 p.m. ABC

April 24: during Warriors, TBD, TBD

April 26: during Spurs, TBD, TBD

April 28: during Warriors, TBD, TNT

* If necessary

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