AT&T Center – It’s playoff time in San Antonio, and what better way to open a round than between Western Conference two rivals, the San Antonio Spurs (54-28) and Los Angeles Lakers (45-37)?
Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni conducted his pregame interview first Sunday and said point guard Steve Nash, who has been battling a right hamstring injury, will start against the Spurs. Along with Nash, Steve Blake, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, and Pau Gasol will all make-up the Lakers starting five.
For D’Antoni, there are three things his club needs to defeat the Spurs he said: 1.) Get back into a half-court set on defense. 2.) “Contain Tony Parker as much as possible.” 3.) Limit the Spurs’ outside 3-point shooters.
15 minutes later, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich conducted his pregame interview. Here’s what he had to say on the health status of his stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
“Tony’s healthy,” said Popoivch, “Manu’s on a minute-regimen.” After being told Ginobili said himself he could play roughly 25-30 minutes if he needed to, Coach Popovich jokingly confirmed what Ginobili had said.
If there’s one thing Coach Popovich knows Steve Nash gives the Lakers, it’s his ability to shoot. “He hasn’t forgotten how to shoot,” said Popovich of Nash.
With Tracy McGrady joining the Spurs last week, many questions were brought up about him. Coach Popovich reiterated the skills McGrady can provide but once again stated McGrady’s main focus right now is getting back into game shape.
He called McGrady a “point-type” player because of his ability to run the point and said if the situation did arise where McGrady was needed in a game, he knows McGrady would be ready.
Lastly, Coach Popovich said the Spurs ended the regular worse than he could remember in his years in San Antonio. He said the combination of injuries and declining defense makes him “concerned” as to what he’s going to see from his team in the playoffs.
Ultimately though, Popovich knows the playoffs are a new chapter for his players’ journey.
"In the end,” concluded Popovich, “you just approach it like it's a new season."