San Antonio Spurs head coach Popovich reacts during the second half of their NBA Western Conference quarterfinal playoff basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Antonio

The Extra Pass: Spurs relying on lineups that aren’t working


Of the 35 most-used lineups in the playoffs, just three have negative net ratings and belong to teams that are still playing.

All three belong to the Spurs.

Tony Parker-Danny Green-Kawhi Leonard-Tim Duncan-Tiago Splitter: 70 minutes

  • Offensive rating: 103.5
  • Defensive rating: 108.9
  • Net rating: –5.4

Tony Parker-Manu Ginobili-Danny Green-Kawhi Leonard-Tim Duncan: 36 minutes

    • Offensive rating: 81.2
    • Defensive rating: 101.7
    • Net rating: –20.4

Tony Parker-Danny Green-Kawhi Leonard-Tim Duncan-Matt Bonner: 32 minutes

    • Offensive rating: 113.2
    • Defensive rating: 115.7
    • Net rating: –2.5

An over-reliance on bad lineups is often a sign of poor coaching, but this is Gregg Popovich and the Spurs we’re talking about. It’s not bad coaching, but I can’t figure out what’s going wrong with these lineups – especially the Parker-Green-Leonard-Duncan-Splitter group. That lineup had a +18.1 net rating during the regular season. The other two lineups had negative ratings during the regular season, but San Antonio used them each in 82 games about as much as it has in nine playoff games.

Popovich is obviously doing something right, because the Spurs are 7-2 in the playoffs. But if he suddenly tweaks his rotation, now you’ll know what he’s trying to fix.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.