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Thursday, March 31, 2011
C's expect full-strength Spurs

By Chris Forsberg

SAN ANTONIO -- While San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich won't tip his hand about who his team will have available for Thursday night's battle with the Celtics, Boston coach Doc Rivers told his players to prepare for everyone.

Spurs stars Tim Duncan (sprained left ankle), Manu Ginobili (left quadriceps contusion), Tony Parker (left patella contusion), and Antonio McDyess (lower back contusion) all sat out Monday's loss to Portland, but Rivers has a feeling they'll all be back on the floor Thursday night at the AT&T Center.

"I think they all will play," said Rivers. "I told our guys that a week ago. They've done this twice. Last year they rested their guys up to play against us and [this year the Spurs] did it again. Duncan was an injury, but now he's healthy. I have no doubts they're all playing. It's one of the games they get up for when they play us, and I hope we do, too."

Given that his own troops typically play up to the level of their competition -- part of the reason the Celtics have dropped seven of their last 12, mostly to inferior teams -- Rivers thinks Thursday's matchup could bring out the best of his team, but cautioned against putting too much stock in any regular-season game.

As his team prepares to joust with a top Western Conference foe, Rivers said he's not overly concerned how Boston's Eastern Conference rivals are faring.

"I can't worry about them," Rivers said of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. "I don't even worry about them, I worry about us. We have to take care of ourselves... More importantly [than Boston's overall record], we have to take care of getting ready for the playoffs. At the end of the day, that's all I'm concerned with. I'm not concerned by [the East rivals]."