Spurs let five players stay home for preseason game in Phoenix, Gregg Popovich joins them

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Forget all the talk about the regular season being too long. If lineup decisions are any indication, the preseason is what could really use some tightening up.

The Spurs have historically been at the forefront of the movement to rest their players, at times sacrificing games during the regular season in hopes that the team’s star players would be well-rested for what has traditionally been a long run through the playoffs.

Gregg Popovich was a little too brash with the strategy at one point, sending players home in advance of a nationally televised contest against the Miami Heat — which cost the team in the form of a $250,000 fine from the league office.

Evidently, preseason games aren’t held to the same standards of importance.

From Dan McCarney of MySanAntonio.com:

Mindful of the 82-game grind to come, and no doubt eager to give a staff featuring two newcomers an opportunity to gel on its own, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is among the mass absence planned for Thursday’s exhibition game in Phoenix. …

At any rate, Popovich joins five players. Patty Mills and Tiago Splitter are injured, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are resting, and Kawhi Leonard is recovering from an eye infection picked up overseas.

San Antonio isn’t the only team to rest its players — LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and DeMarcus Cousins are all recent examples of guys who have received preseason nights off.  But they do seem to be the one team that takes full advantage when doing so by removing the added stress of travel from the equation.