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Zaza Pachulia expected to play in SA for first time since Kawhi Leonard injury

Pachulia re-injured Leonard's ankle during West finals

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SAN ANTONIO – The Warriors are not counting the Spurs out even though San Antonio is undermanned.

It’s no secret that Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker have been out for every game thus far in the 2017- 2018 season.

And with the Spurs (4-3) coming off of a four-game road trip where three games resulted in losses, the Spurs aren’t quite where they want to be.

However, the defending NBA champions know they can’t count the matchup between the two teams as an easy win for them.

“They’re missing two pieces, but Popovich over there, he’s able to motivate and rally a team no matter who’s out there,” Steph Curry said. “They play the same style so you know it’s gonna be a tough game especially in this building.”

The Warriors are coming off of a big win in Los Angeles against the current No. 1 team in the west, the Clippers, 141-113. 

“We took care of the details in the Clippers game. Coach showed us that we still got the best offense in the league,” Kevin Durant said.

Golden State gives Zaza Pachuila a lot of credit for their win with his ability to set screens, pass and make plays.

It’s the first time since Leonard’s injury during last seasons Western Conference Finals that Zaza has been back in the Alamo City. 

And his team has been behind him every step of the way through all the criticism he got following the Leonard injury.

“People try to attack his character, who he is on the basketball floor, that’s uncalled for because he’s not dirty,” Curry said. “I think the way he’s played now and the way he’s played since he’s been here hasn’t changed and hopefully won’t.”

Head coach Steve Kerr was very vocal about Zaza’s character, too. 

“Zaza is one of the best people I know, so genuine, he didn’t try to do anything. He genuinely felt bad. As we all did,” Kerr said referring to the Leonard injury.

Kerr also explained that he hasn’t played Zaza as much as he would like, so when he does get into the game he’s in a rush to get things done.

“He’s anxious to make plays and really he’s at his best when he’s physical and setting screens and when we’re using him as a passer, those are all things he does really well.”

Zaza played a total of 13 minutes against the Clippers. He had two rebounds, three personal fouls, three turnovers and six points. 

The Spurs have posed problems for the Warriors at home for quite some time.

Kerr laughed and said, “I think we’ve won like two regular season games in the last 30 years or something as a franchise. So, we know how hard it’ll be even without Kawhi to come in here and get a win.”

Joffrey Lauvergne is also out against the Warriors. He suffered from an ankle sprain during last week’s game against the Raptors.

But, with it being very early in the season, the Warriors aren’t where they’d like to be either.

“It’s kind of hard to gauge where any bodies full potential is going to be with seven months left into the season so you gotta take it for what it is,” Curry said.

And a good test against a great team on the road is what Thursday's game is, according to Curry.

After the Spurs four-day road stretch, fans are happy to have them at home, and even Durant knows what kind of atmosphere it will be at the AT&T Center.

“It’s gonna be loud, it’s gonna be a fun game,” Durant said. The game tips off  at 7 p.m.