San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich is a smart man and an excellent coach with four rings to prove it. But his latest move—resting his top four players against Miami Thursday night—will not go down as one of his better decisions.
And that’s not even counting the backlash already received by commissioner David Stern who promised ‘substantial sanctions’ in the works, according to a report on the NBA’s website.
Popovich’s Spurs, who played their sixth game in a nine-day road trip Thursday in Miami, were without the services of top performers Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Danny Green who were sent back to San Antonio by Popovich to rest.
“Everybody has to make decisions about their schedule, about players playing and back-to-backs and trips and that sort of thing,” Popovich said, according a report on the league’s website. “In our case, this month we’ve had 11 away games, after (Thursday). We’ve had an eight-day trip and a 10-day trip, and we’re ending it with four (games) in five nights here. I think it’d be unwise to be playing our guys in that kind of a situation, given their history.”
Duncan is 36 years old, Ginobli 35, and Parker is 30 while Green leads the team in minutes this season—thus the reason for the rest.
“Perhaps it’ll give us an opportunity to stay on the court with Memphis on Saturday night,” Popovich said of the 11-2 Grizzlies.
Resting starters seems bright on the surface but there have been plenty of instances where team chemistry was affected. More often than not though it happens in the NFL.
Think of the 15-1 Packers last season when they rested Aaron Rodgers in the final regular season game, even though they had a first-round bye, and the team came out flat and lost to the Giants—who played right through the end of the regular season.
In 2007, the 10-5 Giants and 15-0 Patriots played a thrilling final game to the regular season—against the advice of most experts who thought they should rest their players—even though neither team had any extra playoff position to gain. Both teams then ran the tables in the playoffs and provided an unforgettable Super Bowl showdown.As legendary coach Red Auerbach once said to ESPN.com, regarding worrying about resting ailing players near playoff time, “The thing we used to go by was every game is important and don’t try to be cute and play the angles. Play every game, win every game, let the chips fall where they may.”
Auerbach won nine titles with Boston.
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