DENVER (AP) - George Karl enjoys the start of the NBA playoffs and the opening of training camp like few of his coaching peers.
Yet the Denver Nuggets coach looked tired and mentally and physically drained Saturday as the Nuggets completed their final workout before departing for San Antonio and the start of the playoffs. Denver plays the Spurs Sunday night in the initial game of their best-of-seven series.
Why so worn out? He said he had some restless nights with concerns about one player. And it wasn't Spurs center Tim Duncan.
"It's (Manu) Ginobili," Karl said with a yawn. "He's the guy I have a tremendous respect for."
Ginobili (16.5 points a game) is San Antonio's third-leading scorer, behind Tim Duncan (20.0) and Tony Parker (18.6). But it's his unusual style of drawing contact and getting under the skin of opponents that has made the 6-foot-6 player such a pest to the Nuggets and the rest of the NBA.
"I have two, three or four different ways on Duncan and we can mix it up on Parker," Karl said. "But Ginobili? I don't have that many weapons for him."
The Nuggets were swept in a three-game series by these same Spurs the following season. They've gotten to the postseason the last three years only to lose in five games in succession to Minnesota, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers.
None of that concerns Karl.
"There is a possibility of upsets, but what I see there is a possibility of a lot of teams moving and becoming better in the eyes of the basketball world," he said. "I think we are one of them and Houston is one of them. Behind closed doors we're going to get angry and competitive. I think we're serious about this thing."