OAKLAND -- Richard Jefferson would not tell a lie. He was blunt Saturday when he said the Warriors will have to play better than they did against Denver -- a lot better -- to beat the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Jefferson has an insider's perspective having played for the Spurs for 2½ years between 2009 and 2012 before being traded to the Warriors for Stephen Jackson late last season. He knows all the intricacies of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker firsthand, and he understands Gregg Popovich's ultra-structured system like the back of his hand.

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) walks off they court after their 92-88 win against the Denver Nuggets for Game 6 to win their first-round
Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) walks off they court after their 92-88 win against the Denver Nuggets for Game 6 to win their first-round NBA basketball playoff series on Thursday, May 2, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

"They're a completely different kind of monster than Denver," Jefferson said Saturday. "It's apples and oranges. It's going to be a different kind of series, because the Spurs are a machine that just keeps on moving. The last 15 years in a row, they've won 50 games (14, actually). Shoot, they even won 50 in the lockout season. That's just absurd."

But Jefferson knows an upset is possible. His first season in San Antonio, the Spurs were swept by Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals. In his second, they lost in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies in six games.

Do the Warriors have to play the perfect series against the Spurs? Not necessarily, Jefferson said. But they do have to play more consistently, more completely and not at San Antonio's preferred tempo.


Advertisement

"You have a two-, three-minute lapse against them, you're in trouble," he said. "They're not the type of team you want to put yourself in a hole against. Denver is a team we felt like whether we were up 10 or down 10, we were always in control of the game. It was just a matter of us doing what we needed to do for a period of time.

"San Antonio's entirely different -- up by four or down by four, they're going to constantly try to impose their will on you. Our focus against Denver was to get them in the half-court game, but San Antonio can beat you in the half court. They have a complete half-court game. It's our job to fight against doing what they want to do, play even better defense and make them play our style of basketball."

Jefferson believes the Warriors might miss injured forward David Lee, who likely will be restricted to a few minutes a game at best, more in this series than they did against the Nuggets because of Lee's adeptness, particularly on offense, in a half-court set.

So without Lee, what are the options? Will the Warriors have to run more? And what else can the Warriors do to create havoc for the Spurs?

"We're going to have to see," Jefferson said. "We have yet to play them without David, so it's going to be very similar to the Denver series where we have to figure it out. We figured out a way against Denver without David to adjust our game -- Draymond Green played well, Harrison Barnes played well. If those guys can keep it up and we continue to get consistent performances from (Jarrett) Jack and Steph (Curry), we're going to be in good shape."

And the battle underneath between Andrew Bogut and Tim Duncan? Jefferson doesn't know how that one will turn out, but he can't wait to see it because he knows the intense competitiveness of both big men.

"Bogues is a defender. He doesn't care if he gets dunked on, he's going to keep coming as that guy in the paint who tries to protect it, and he's also going to take the challenge of guarding Tim Duncan," he said. "Tim's going to be Tim. It doesn't matter if it's Andrew Bogut or Shaquille O'Neal, Tim's going to do what Tim does. That's why he's probably the best power forward to ever play the game."

The 32-year-old Jefferson, who has played only intermittently this season and logged just 21 minutes in the Denver series, isn't completely sure how he will help the Warriors. He hopes he can play a little, but if not, he thinks he can assist from the bench adding any little tips he can about San Antonio's players and sets.

Coach Mark Jackson discounted whether Jefferson could add much significant in regard to having been on the inside in San Antonio.

"If you're looking for the great line, yes," Jackson said. "But there are no secrets. We all know Tony Parker likes to get into the paint, or Ginobili is really crafty and good. Richard is a veteran guy who sees a lot of stuff and can help in that sense, but I wouldn't just minimize him to a Spurs series. That's been all year."

Said Jefferson: "You try and help guys out whenever you get the opportunity. I'd love to get on the floor and contribute that way versus just a mentoring role, but whatever opportunity presents itself as a guy giving advice, I'm going to embrace it."