Last night the San Antonio Spurs almost pulled off their most impressive win in recent regular season memory. Down 18 with about three minutes left in the third quarter, a Spurs roster that consisted of Gary Neal, Danny Green, James Anderson, Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter roared back to give the Spurs the lead late in the fourth, only to eventually lost by one in overtime.
It was an incredible showing of poise and knowledge of a system. While many were suprised by this comeback, one guy, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle wasn't. Carlisle told the media after the game he wasn't entirely surprised by the comeback because of Coach Pop.
"I think he's the greatest coach, really ever in this game, because all their guys function within their system at a high level," Carlisle said.
That's high praise for a guy who just led his team to an NBA title. ESPN's Henry Abbott added this about Pop's ability to turn a no win situation like last night's game was shaping up to be in to a situation that instilled confidence in a group of guys who are a little further down on the Spurs' totem pole. It's something termed as "Royal Jelly".
"It's about the fine art of nurturing players -- intelligently giving them the support, trust and guidance to evolve. It's the opposite of assuming players are what they are and can be no different. Baby bees can turn into drones or queens. They're born the same. The queens, though, are the ones that get the royal jelly, which, I'd argue, Popovich hands out more readily than most coaches.
In most systems, on most teams, the big minutes in the big games go to those who have already earned them. In San Antonio, Popovich knows those minutes can do a lot to inspire young players to develop. He has long been handing them out to players who would struggle to make a lot of NBA rosters. And he has way more than his fair share of those players evolve into meaningful contributors. Is it just that his front office knows how to find diamonds in the rough? Or maybe Popovich has mastered the art of polishing."
There are no moral victories, especially when you're playing the Mavs, but given how well the bench played I didn't turn off last night's game feeling terrible about the outcome.
Maybe in some past year he was the best, but not this year. How can you let a talent like Anderson go? Don't tell me it's his injury, he is still on that cheap rookie contract ! He is a all-around type of player but the FO forced him to be a jump shooter like Neal! Sadly, he is no Neal and you will be regret giving him up.
In theory OK, but reality a Division win against Dallas would have been huge. The B team would of had more motivation with a win, not a loss, why not sub a couple of times to at least rest the b teamers that were obviously gassed...
I am happy that Pop stuck with the "B" team, the result was unfortunate; however I feel it will pay off later on. In the past the Spurs approached the post season knowing that they did not need the top seed to go all the way. Recent years have seen the Spurs suffer injuries at the wrong time (think: 2008 WCF and 2009 1st Rd). Last year the team played with a sense of urgency during the regular season to get that top seed and they did, only to have Ginobili get injured on the last day of the season. We don't need to be reminded how that played out. So yes, a loss against Dallas does hurt especially if it comes down to a tiebreaker and the Spurs don't own it. However, if the team uses this condensed schedule to become a cohesive unit and can avoid any other injuries when TJ and Manu return they will be able to make some noise in the playoffs especially if Pop can continue to minimize TD's and TP's minutes.
I must agree the comeback was a fine thing to watch, however, down to overtime you must interject some of your rested superstars. The "B" teamers played an entire quarter without be subed for, they WERE GASSED and everyone knew it. I think Pop is one of the greatest coaches ever but we all knew he was trying to prove a point and it cost him a game against a division rival that he was tied for first place with...It was a misteak
A ton of credit to Pop for going with and sticking with the second 5. That said, I was watching the game with 2 other Spurs fans and to a man we all said Noooo when we saw Bonner on the court for the last possession. My friend said " If he gets the imbound pass, he can't move or handle the ball well enough". The rest Spurs faithful is history. I have no idea what Pop was thinking with that final, critical move.