The biggest matchup of the season featuring the two best teams in the NBA will have a little less star power as the San Antonio Spurs (38-6) sit power forward Tim Duncan against the Golden State Warriors (40-4) Monday night at Oracle Arena.
Duncan, 39, will rest for the second time in San Antonio’s last three games due to a sore right knee. However, reports indicate the injury isn’t serious and his absence can be chalked up to head coach Gregg Popovich exercising caution.
Forward David West is likely to replace Duncan in the starting lineup as the Spurs look to extend their league-best 13-game winning streak and chip away at Golden State’s two-game lead for the Western Conference’s top overall seed. It will prove difficult to topple the Warriors at home, however, as they’re a perfect 20-1 at the Oracle.
And with Duncan on the sidelines, the Warriors top-ranked offense could continue its torrid run against San Antonio’s No. 1 defense. Golden State, powered by point guard Stephen Curry’s 30.1 points per game, have netted 114.7 points per contest and meet a Spurs defense allowing 89.8 points a contest, nearly six better than No. 2-ranked Cleveland.
The Warriors are also trying to continue their current three-game winning streak, following a 122-110 victory over Indiana at home. Golden State welcomed head coach Steve Kerr back to the bench after he recovered from back surgery throughout the first-half of the season and Curry celebrated by recording a triple-double of 39 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists while the rest of the Warriors shot 42.4 percent from three.
All-Star snub and power forward Draymond Green totaled 22 points and 11 rebounds for his 16 th double-double of the season, and made four steals as Golden State led by double digits for most of the game.
Yet the Spurs haven’t tasted defeat since last month at Houston, and ever since have ripped off solid wins over Cleveland, Dallas, and Utah, as well as Friday’s 108-95 triumph over the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.
Guard Manu Ginobili notched a season-high 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting from the floor and All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard added 18 points, two steals, and three blocks against the Lakers, and as a team the Spurs went 11-for-21 from three-point range.
The Spurs sat forward and leading rebounder LaMarcus Aldridge due to back spasms, and it’s unclear if he will return against Golden State.
Leonard, in the midst of a career year with 20 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field, was in a dead heat with the Warriors Green for West’s All-Star starting lineup until a late surge of votes from fans last week.
Tipoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBA TV
Live Online: NBA.com
Betting Odds: Golden State -5
Over/under: 210.5 points
Prediction: Golden State over San Antonio, 100-94