Gregg Popovich is making a habit of tempting fate.
First, he confronted Stephen Jackson. Even if that was done in a joking manner – and it was – you can never be certain how Jackson will react.
Now, the Spurs coach is challenging another one of the NBA’s most strong-willed figures: David Stern.
Of course, Stern fined the Spurs last season for resting their starters in a nationally televised game with the Heat. Will tonight’s game, televised on TNT, yield a different result?
Last year, Stern said “the totality of the facts in this case” led to the fine. He cited:
- Four players missing the game
- One of those players being 26 years old
- San Antonio not making its plan clear in a timely manner
This time, it’s only three players. And considering Parker missed the previous game, the Spurs should be clear on that. It’s really only two players.
Duncan is 37, Ginobili 36 and Parker 31. The Spurs certainly aren’t resting a young player this year.
The game doesn’t tip off for another six hours. I’d think this qualifies as timely notification.
But left unsaid by Stern last time was the fact that the game, like this one, was nationally televised. Did that factor into his decision, even if he didn’t say so publically? If it did, it will be a factor again tonight.
The Spurs could have just made up injuries for Duncan and Ginobili – back soreness or something – and avoided the whole issue. But it seems, once again, Popovich wants to push his luck.
This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.
The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.
With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.
Emphasis on “almost.”
The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.
The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.
After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.
Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.
The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.