A whole lot of sub-plots continue to be in play regarding the best two teams in the NBA. Here's a few.....
The San Antonio Spurs remain undefeated at home and have become the first team in NBA history to have won their first 38 such games in a regular season.
Similarly, the Golden State Warrior remain perfect in their own backyard. They're not far behind at 36-0 at home, only because the season schedule to date has played out that way. Both teams have played 75 games, which means they both have 7 remaining.
GS has 5 out of the last 7 at home. Conversely, SA has 4 out of their last 7 on the road.
Gregg Popovich and the Spurs long ago realized they'd never catch the high flying Warriors to become the top seed in the West. With seven games to go and being behind by five, that's pretty much a done deal.
But that's where it gets interesting.
Coach Pop has rested some of his aging starters down the home stretch while Coach Kerr and the Warriors continue in full speed ahead mode.
There is no doubt the Warriors want to surpass the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls all-time regular season record of 72-10. Further, it goes without saying they wish to remain undefeated at home. Chances are fairly good they might do both. If so, they would end the regular season with a couple records in their pocket.
Yet conversely, the Spurs are taking a totally different approach. Popovich himself has openly stated he couldn't care less about his team remaining undefeated at home and possibly sharing a co-record with the Warriors. His eyes are looking down the road to the playoffs.
To bolster that argument, star point guard Tony Parker is also on record as saying he expects himself and other SA starters to be "sat down", even if otherwise fully healthy, during the last handful of games. What is truly interesting is TWO of those last seven games are against the Warriors.
They've met twice earlier in the season. In Oakland, GS steamrolled SA. In the rematch in Alamoland, the Spurs came away with a win.
Are we to believe Coach Pop would send in his B-Team on both occasions to face the shock troops of GS? Just so his starters could rest up a bit so late in the regular season?
Don't be surprised if he does exactly that. As he is certainly aware of -- the Spurs will be the #2 seed in the West regardless of what happens in the remaining seven regular season games. They'll need to get through two playoff rounds before likely facing the Warriors in the conference finals. Likewise, Golden State will have to hold serve themselves.
If it plays out that way, the Spurs would have to win at least one game at Golden State to get to the championship round against whoever came out of the East. A playoff series between GS and SA would be hard fought indeed.
The difference in strategy between the two teams is worth noting. Sure, Golden State is the defending champs, and for the most part a younger team than San Antonio. The Warriors are chasing a whole lot of things. They want to win every game, every thing, and remain in balls to the wall mode. And it just might work. Who would bet against these guys?
But Popovich is gambling that when the REALLY important crunch time comes, the rest he will have given his A-Teamers will pay off. After all, when the playoffs begin, who cares about the regular season? It means nothing other than the fact a team won enough games to qualify for the post-season. And if a coach has gassed his team getting there -- it's a long grueling season -- might they wilt when the pressure and level of play is cranked up against good teams in the playoffs?
Two different teams (both outstanding) and two different philosophies on how to proceed from here.
It will be interesting indeed to see how it plays out......