It doesn’t matter why — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says they would have done it regardless of the opponent, conspiracy theorists will say he’s trying to make sure he avoids the Lakers as long as possible — what matters is it is happening.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will all sit against the Lakers Tuesday night, Popovich said.
“There’s several reasons, I’ll give you one,” Popovich said. “It’s a back-to-back (Spurs travel to face the Suns Wednesday), it’s obvious that’s not the best thing for us to do this close to the playoffs, to go back-to-back. And it makes more sense to play tomorrow than today — so even if it was Phoenix today and the Lakers tomorrow we’d do the same thing because playing tonight, it was just to long sitting between tonight and Saturday and Sunday. It makes a little more sense to play them Wednesday, then you’re a little bit closer to the game and keep your rhythm.
“We’ve already done it, this is what we do. We were in the middle of a six-game losing streak when I sat them against Portland, if you guys remember a couple weeks ago. And that’s before the Lakers were losing games and everyone was on our ass catching us and I did it anyway.”
Of course, if the Lakers win Tuesday they are assured of being the second or third seed in the West (Los Angeles would at worst tie the Thunder, and the Lakers have the tiebreaker so LA could fall now lower than third). That means top seed San Antonio would avoid Los Angeles until the Conference Finals. But that’s just a coincidence, right Pops?
The starters will be George Hill, Gary Neil, Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter.
Don’t assume that means an easy Lakers win — no team is capable of thinking it should win and coasting when they hear news like this than the Lakers. See the last five games for proof.
But the Lakers need this one. They want to maintain home court in the second round and Phil Jackson said they were making it a priority to win out.