This debate seems to come up every time San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wants to rest his starters: is it a smart move or not? Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker all stayed home in San Antonio last night to rest as the rest of the Spurs took on the Utah Jazz, putting their 11-game win streak in serious jeopardy.
While the Spurs fought hard, and were even close to winning the game, the Jazz pulled it out in the end. Now the Spurs are a game behind the Thunder for the top seed in the Western Conference, after “throwing away” a game they conceivably could have won with the “Big 3.”
The guys of ESPN’s First Take debated Pop’s decision. Skip Bayless (who I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with once) said it was a bad decision to let this game go and it “feeds the perception that this team is too old.” He says there was a way for the starters to play some reduced minutes and still get enough rest and get the job done. Jalen Rose seemed to side with Pop, but said as a fan of the game, he didn’t like it.
Check out the video.
I really hate when this debate comes up. All I want to do is shout at these guys, “Gregg Popovich knows what he’s doing!” The Spurs are old, they need the rest. Manu has had some injury problems. Pop is playing for a championship. He’s not playing for win streaks, or to entertain the fans and maybe not even for the top seed in the West. Pop is doing what he thinks is best to put his team in position to win a title, bottom line.
So I hope Spurs and their fans can brush off what Skip Bayless says about them, or Paul Millsap being insulted that he didn’t get the Spurs’ best effort. If the Spurs won every game for the rest of the season, got the number one seed and then lost somewhere in the playoffs because they were burnt out, no one would care that they had the best record, that doesn’t mean anything. But if the Spurs want to throw away a game here and there so they can be well rested for a strong postseason run, then they should. No one is going to look back on this lockout-shortened season and remember what effort the Spurs put in on a day-to-day regular season basis, what they’ll remember is the champion.
So everyone doubting coach Pop needs to take a step back, remember that he’s in charge, and respect him for the 4-time title winning coach that he is.
Hmmmm.....looks like the Spurs need more rest. Pitiful performance against the Lakers (at home) makes the gift to Utah even more costly.
Pop has won 4 championships how many has the naysayers won? I think pop knows the needs of his players better than anyone else. Last year we had #1 seed and look where we got. We were worn out and injured. Let's stay as fresh as we can and get #5, positioning be damned!
Pop gets what he wants. But for fans(especially not local ones) who come to the game to watch their favorite players, that's awful. You can play each of them less than 20 min, then you can get satisfy the fan as well as satisfy yourself.
Not to nit-pick Kyle, but when you hyperlinked "Jazz pulled it out in the end," the "J" was not included so it looks like azz. Sorry to be juvenile and critical but it was a pretty funny error.
"As A spurs fan I want to win" hell yeah, I want to win, but I want to win in the playoffs when it really matters, some of these spurs fans are not seeing the big picture and that's okay, just as long as their watching the games and not coaching them.
Popovich BETTER play to "entertain the fans." We're the ones who buy the tickets. Resting all 3 stars effectively threw the game. That's an insult to the fans, the Jazz, and the Spurs team.
@bluebo7 On the other hand, you could argue that it made the game more competitive because the Jazz would have lost had we brought the entire team. The Spurs were winning with 3 minutes to go and then Devin Harris hit some clutch shots. We beat them the night before without playing our starting center and our future starting SF.
If you want to be "entertained" by regular season basketball, go buy NBA League Pass and watch all of the Heat games this season. If you would rather see well executed basketball played with tactics of the BEST Coach in the NBA, come and watch the Spurs.
I have to laugh at some of the sports media comments about Pop. I wasn't happy when George Hill was traded but I respect Pop decisions. I know what he does is for the good of the whole TEAM.
It might be the better move for the Spurs to rest the superstars going into the playoffs... But as a Spurs fan, I wanted all the players to play. If I remember correct, our previous win streak was killed because of the same mentality: resting the superstars. We could have EASILY been the number 1 team in the NBA a long time ago. BUT AS A SPURS FAN, I like to see us WIN! Not lose. When was losing ever accepted?
I agree, Pop knows what he is doing. But winning is winning. That's the bottomline... The win streaks also put us in a basketball high. It enables to trash talk when we want to trash talk because our team is the hottest team in the NBA, not that it is a priority, but it's nice to know that we can. Losing kills momentum. And we can fly under the radar, but we been flying under the radar for the last 4 seasons, with no Championship. That says a lot.
If the playoffs started today, we would be set to play the Mavs instead of the Nuggets. I would rather play the Nuggets.
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It's common sense in even the short-term picture. The Big 3 didn't even make the trip... they get the opportunity to stay home for an extended period as our next two games are at home... the next two which are important games to put away. Plus the rest of the team could compete with the Jazz, so it was the perfect game for the experience and quality playing time - in playing for a win (instead of just getting blown out by a better team without the 3). Who cares what the media are saying... that's why Pop is the coach with a bunch of rings and they aren't.
@Ironwill71 to me this is going over board. it was a smart decision. let's leave it as that.
This being discussion board... rathering than 'leaving it as that'... I discussed some brief reasons why, vs reasons 'ESPN wrestled' with. I think Pop thinks about all those things I said... plus a lot more I'm not able - or capable - of thinking of. Not overboard at all... if you really listen to Pop talking about non-basketball things, you get a feel for how many variables he considers with decisions, whether it be vineyards and wine... or the mentality, growth and condition of the team and each player on the Spurs. Lets hope it stays that way for awhile longer...
A healthy big three is key to our 5th title. Anytime we can rest them is a good thing. Once the playoffs start they will play every game. At this point Ill take the #1 or 2 seed and take my chances with a healthy roster. Last year we hobbled in and had an early exit. Good job POP.