Well, this Thursday night showdown between two of the league’s best just got a lot less interesting.
San Antonio is taking on Miami Thursday night in what is the Spurs second night of a back-to-back and their fourth game in five nights, plus it is the final game of a six-game road trip. So as he often does, Gregg Popovich is going to give some players the night off rather than wear them out.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green are all going to sit out the game, reports Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.
The four were spotted on a Southwest flight making a pre-lunch escape from central Florida. As a result, the Spurs – who were already without injured small forward Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson – get set to take on the defending NBA champions using a roster of nine players.
Wait a second… Southwest? You are putting 6’11” Tim Duncan on a cattle-call flight? (No offense to Southwest, which I fly sometimes, but those planes were not built for someone Duncan’s size.) Come on, spring for first class on another airline, Spurs.
Popovich hinted this was coming before Wednesday night’s game in Orlando.
“We’re getting tired,” Popovich said. “We’ve had a six-day trip and a 10-day trip. Usually you don’t have that in one month.”
There are fans (particularly those that paid for tickets) who will rant about Popovich doing this. I’ve got no problem with it. He’s giving older players a rest in the middle of a tough part of the schedule — this was likely a Spurs loss anyway thanks to the schedule maker, so might as well rest his key guys. This is about how the team feels in May, not wins in November. Popovich gets it. And he could care less what the folks in the NBA officies, the TNT studios, or you or I think about it.
So, do you think LeBron James and Dwyane Wade play the fourth quarter? You think the folks at TNT are happy? Well, the Denver vs. Golden State game just became the best game of the night.