When the San Antonio Spurs got in a funk, they relied on their not so secret weapon -- their bench.
Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Terry Porter and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich agree on this that the bench helped will the Spurs to victory. Pop gave this compliment to the guys who brought energy to the team and the lead.
"We finally found a group that moved the ball instead of standing"
That's a main problem the Spurs have had these past few games and have had a tough time scoring against opponents, but this time the team has seemed to figure out a formula that works even if it's for a night.
The team has so many options off the bench because of their versatile players that it's tough for opposing coaches to come up with a perfect game plan on how to play them. The Spurs not only have guards, forwards, and centers, but they have players who can play two or three different positions.
The bench consists of Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson, both men who can play the small forward and big man positions along with Manu Ginobili, who can play both guard positions and small forward. Gary Neal and Patrick Mills can both play the two guard spots alongside each other and force the defenses to change their strategy because of their speed and shot making combinations.
Terry Porter talked about the difficulty of facing the San Antonio bench.
“Their (Spurs) bench is leading the league in scoring so you can expect when their bench steps on the court. They will continue to build on the lead or get them back in the game and knock down shots. We couldn’t knock down shots and those guys did a good job with their energy, getting some opportunities for them and getting them back in a rhythm.”
The second string Spurs players are talented enough to be a starting unit with a handful of teams in the league and they can score against the best the league has to offer. When a bench player steps in for San Antonio, there's no drop off from the starters. in fact, they make it more difficult for the opponent because the Spurs force the other team to change their defense because the Spurs can play different ways.
They can run and slow down the game with the same guys on the floor and also run in transition when their defense comes up with a steal. When a team has a mix and majority of players who can handle the ball, shoot, and pass, it makes it extremely difficult to scout since the team can switch who is the main option at any time.
While many teams who are competing for a championship are struggling with the emphasis solely on their starting unit, the Spurs are showing the rest of the league that team play goes farther than egos. The Spurs may have an aging core, but it's the bench that keeps the team youthful and defying age. The team will go as long as the bench takes them.
If they can bring in energy and move the ball for easy scores, the Spurs will be a tough matchup to scout.