SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich accomplished the goal of pushing the team through some strenuous work -- by virtue of a 102-98 overtime win Tuesday night over the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder -- before he shuts down the core group in preparation for the postseason.
San Antonio's starters, with the exception of LaMarcus Aldridge (19 minutes), each played at least 27 minutes, while Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker each logged 30-plus minutes. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, faced the Spurs without the help of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, as the trio didn't even make the trip.
Here are a few thoughts on the game:
Rest beneficial, but maybe it's a tad detrimental, too: The Spurs clinched no worse than the No. 2 seed so long ago (March 25) they found themselves somewhat in uncharted waters toward the end of the regular season, which made for a difficult balance for Popovich to strike between resting players and making sure they're peaking for the postseason.
Given the fact Popovich has won five titles, surely he knows a thing or two about striking that ideal balance.
But the truth is San Antonio hasn't put together a complete night of sharp Spurs basketball since March 23, when they defeated the Miami Heat 112-88 at the AT&T Center. Popovich has said on numerous occasions he had to be careful about not deconditioning his players and allowing the group to maintain a rhythm heading into the playoffs. The Spurs haven't quite played with the rhythm Popovich desires on a consistent basis, and they won't make any progress in that area in the season finale at Dallas because the regulars all will be resting.
No Durant, Westbrook, no victory for OKC: San Antonio trailed by as many as 18 points against the Thunder, and going into the game, the largest deficit the Spurs had experienced this season at home was 15 points on Jan. 14 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Recent history says the Thunder didn't have a chance. The last time the Thunder/SuperSonics franchise won at San Antonio without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was Dec. 8, 2004. In that game, Duncan reeled off 39 points to go with 10 rebounds. Ray Allen paced the Sonics with 29 points.
Injury report: The Spurs made it out of Tuesday's contest relatively healthy. Boris Diaw (right adductor soreness) was held out along with guard Manu Ginobili. Popovich said Diaw will likely return to action Wednesday in the season finale. Diaw has been inactive for five of the team's past nine outings.
What's next: The Spurs close the regular season on the road Wednesday at Dallas. Popovich plans to hold out the team's core players, which means plenty of action for reserves such as Boban Marjanovic, Jonathon Simmons and Matt Bonner.