Their first-round sweep of the Utah Jazz complete, the Spurs on Wednesday began preparing for the Western Conference semifinals with an intense 90-minute workout that included a physical scrimmage.
"A little tired, nice practice," guard Manu Ginobili said. "We went at it. It was good. It feels great."
The Spurs, who closed out the Jazz with an 87-81 victory Monday night in Salt Lake City, will play the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Memphis Grizzlies series in the next round. The Grizzlies avoided playoff elimination with a 92-80 victory Wednesday night in Memphis.
The Clippers, who lead the series 3-2, and Grizzlies meet in Game 6 Friday night in Los Angeles. If the Clippers win Game 6, they probably would open the Western Conference semifinals against the Spurs on Sunday at the AT&T Center.
But if the Grizzlies extend the series to seven games, the earliest the Western Conference semifinals could begin would be Tuesday.
Whatever the case, the Spurs face the challenge of balancing rest with staying sharp while waiting for the next round to begin. Riding the crest of a 14-game winning streak, the Spurs are fully aware that a long layoff could get them out of their groove.
"You prefer not to wait for eight days because you lose your rhythm a little bit, but it's not something that bad," Ginobili said. "You've got the opportunity to prepare a little bit more for whoever you're going to play.
"Individually, you can work on things that you haven't had time to do. You gain in some regards and you lose a little rhythm."
Pop: Keeping rhythm, conditioning top priorities
The Spurs will take Thursday off and return to practice Friday. While his team has the luxury of having extra time to refine its game, Coach Gregg Popovich said he won't do much tweaking during the layoff.
"At this point in the season, you are pretty much what you've done most of the year, and the last thing you want to do is confuse the issue or try to get smart," Popovich said. "We just want to keep our rhythm and keep our conditioning as best we can."
Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson said he doesn't subscribe to the theory that a team can have too much rest.
"I'm sure the guys that need it don't," Jackson said. "It depends on how you're resting. If you're really at home off your feet and you come in and do your work, and going back home and resting, then it's a positive. But if you're out all day and call it resting and just not playing, that's a different thing.
"I think when we have these days off, if we're not in the gym, we actually need to be off our legs and resting. It all depends on how you approach it."
Jackson, who played on the 2002-03 Spurs team that won the NBA championship, expressed confidence that Popovich will have the Silver & Black ready regardless of when they start the Western Conference semifinals.
"He's a great coach," Jackson said. "He's definitely a great teacher and a great leader of his team. He just knows what he's doing. Everybody on this team trusts him. This is chess, not checkers.
"He likes to switch things up, throw different lineups in, different coverages. That's great coaching. I've seen him outcoach a lot of coaches in games where I thought the team was more talented than us. He's definitely somebody who's going to have us ready."
Ginobili pulling for long Clippers-Grizzlies series
The Spurs went 2-1 against the Clippers and 4-0 against the Grizzlies during the lockout-shortened regular season.
The Grizzlies ousted the Spurs in the first round last year, marking only the second time that a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed since the NBA went to a best-of-7 format in the opening round of the playoffs.
"I think they are two teams that play really hard," Ginobili said, assessing the strengths of the Clippers and Grizzlies. "Very good presence in the paint with scorers, size, rebounders. Memphis probably has more scorers in every position.
"The Clippers probably focus more on Chris Paul and what he creates with that pick-and-roll. Memphis' offense is a little more shared. Both teams are good defensively. Whoever we play is going to really be tough."
Ginobili said he would like to see the Clippers and Grizzlies continue to slug it out.
"Whoever wins gets a little more tired," Ginobili said.