Spurs captain Tim Duncan was in the lineup against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on Friday night, and if you have followed his last few seasons with the Spurs, you understand his playing in the second game of a back-to-back set is never a given this late in the season.

It was the Spurs’ early domination of the Clippers on Thursday night that cleared the way for the 36-year-old, two-time Most Valuable Player to suit up against the Warriors. The Spurs established a double-digit lead in the first nine minutes Thursday, grew it to 15 by halftime and 30 before the end of the third quarter.

Duncan sat the entire second and fourth quarters, totaling only 16 minutes. He was happy that the situation allowed him to play in both games.

“We talked for a little while about not playing (Thursday) and maybe playing (Friday); or playing (Thursday) and not playing (Friday),” he said. “This is the best of both worlds. I got to play against the Clippers and continue to work on getting my rhythm back. Then I could go out (Friday) and play and log a couple more minutes and still work on getting my game back.”

With 26 games remaining in the 82-game grind of the regular season, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is acutely aware of managing the minutes of his most veteran players.