Denver (44-37) at San Antonio (58-23)

Fair Currently: San Antonio, TX
Temp: 49° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Wed Apr 18, 2007
  • TV: ALT, CW35
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A few days before their playoff series begins, the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets are likely to rely heavily on their benches in what amounts to a meaningless regular-season finale on Wednesday night.

With the Spurs (58-23) having secured the third seed in the Western Conference and the Nuggets (44-37) having clinched the sixth spot, Denver will be in San Antonio again this weekend to open its first-round series.

Both clubs may sit out or limit the minutes of key players in this game to rest up for the postseason.

The Spurs already used that tactic, giving Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili the night off Monday as the team lost 101-91 at Memphis. While Duncan missed a game for the first time all season, reserve Brent Barry also was inactive with a “tummy ache.”

“It’s a fine line between staying away from injury and giving the body a little bit of a break,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “But as much as the body, it’s the mental side of it. This late into the season, I don’t think somebody is not going to get into or out of shape.”

If Popovich decides to rest the stars again, San Antonio could have reserves Jacque Vaughn and James White in the backcourt with Jackie Butler in for Duncan. White, a rookie out of Cincinnati, scored a career-high 17 points Monday as he and Butler, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds, made their first career starts.

The Spurs have won both season meetings with Denver, including a 95-80 victory on Feb. 20 at the AT&T Center. The teams have split the last four matchups in San Antonio after Denver had lost eight in a row there. The Spurs have won 16 of 17 home games overall.

The Nuggets also expect to employ their reserves after coach George Karl monitored his starters’ minutes in a 122-107 win over Minnesota on Monday.

“I don’t know how to handle this week other than get ready for San Antonio,” Karl said. “I’m happy that we responded and played a good third quarter. But the energy and focus of the last two games have made me nervous. But I think we’re all anxious to play San Antonio, which is a good thing. But five days waiting for them may not be a good thing.

“It should be a real interesting game in San Antonio on Wednesday night.”

Karl might decide to rest Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Marcus Camby on Wednesday. Anthony and Iverson played limited minutes against the Timberwolves and Camby was rested with a sore right knee.

Linas Kleiza, who got his first career double-double Monday with 23 points and 10 boards, might get his first start since Feb. 23.

The Nuggets clinched their playoff spot behind a 9-1 April surge. One more win will give the club its best record in the month since joining the NBA in 1976.

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Wednesday, Apr 18