NBA: Popovich Rests Veterans against Miami Heat
The NBA season is 82 games long so San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich decided to start resting his players after just the first dozen games of the season. On Thursday, Popovich sent four of his best players home to San Antonio so they would not have to face the Miami Heat in a game Thursday night.
NBA officials said they would punish the team for the decision. Popovich said his decision to send Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan home was out of the best interest for the ball club. However, NBA Commissioner David Stern was upset about the move by San Antonio and promised that the Spurs would receive a penalty.
Stern apologized to all the NBA fans and smart money bettors as it threw the points spread and over under into turmoil. Stern released his statement about the same time the game between the Spurs and Heat tipped off.
Prior to the game, coach Popovich said he sat the core of his team after seeing how difficult this stretch of the season was going to be for his team. The game on Thursday against Miami ended a stretch of six games in just nine day for San Antonio. The Spurs were 5-0 on their trip until Thursday’s game in which they lost 105-100 without their four best players.
Popovich said his team has played 11 games on the road in November, including a road trip of 8 days, one of 10 days and the most current one included four games in just five nights. The four players reportedly flew back to San Antonio on Thursday from the city of Orlando where they had played the previous night.
Duncan is playing in his 16th season in the NBA, Parker is in his 12th and Ginobili has played 11 seasons. Green, is just 25 and a kid amongst the veterans but he was picked by Popovich to rest because his minutes have been high for the team thus far early in the season.
Thus far, Green has played 496 minutes this season, which leads the team and is the 44th most of any player in the league before the game on Thursday. The Spurs were expected to rest on Friday and will face the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the top teams in the NBA, on Saturday.
Popovich said the rest should help the team against Memphis since the first game back from a long road trip is usually very difficult for the players. He called his decision logical since it was more important to play well against Memphis that to have his veterans play four games in a five night stretch.
The NBA’s quick reaction to the decision by San Antonio means they will probably sanction the team before the end of the week.
The Miami Heat players and Erik Spoelstra the Head Coach said that San Antonio’s decision to rest its players did not affect the Heat’s preparation for the game. Spoelstra said each team has a view of what is important to them and how to accomplish their goals and the league probably respects that.
In the game for San Antonio, the Spurs played with just nine players as they also have two players Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson out injured. Even though the Spurs were very shorthanded in the game, they held tough and only lost by five points against the defending NBA champions.
Now all that remains is to see what kind of penalty the team will face from the NBA front office.