If you’re ready for the Spurs-Rockets nationally televised game tonight, raise your hand.
Not so fast, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills.
Gregg Popovich is doing what he does.
Marco Belinelli (mild strain, right groin), Tim Duncan (rest), Manu Ginobili (rest), Patty Mills (right shoulder surgery) and Tiago Splitter (tightness, right calf) are listed as out for tonight’s game at Houston.
Mills’ injury is legitimate. Splitter missed San Antonio’s first two games but returned for its third, though he played just 11 minutes before leaving. Belinelli played just five minutes last night before leaving.
Duncan and Ginobili, as the Spurs acknowledge, are just resting.
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There will be an understandable amount of grumbling about Popovich caring more about the Spurs winning than promoting the NBA’s stars, which yeah. He does.
The league makes money through the cooperation of every team playing its part in the system. When the Spurs don’t participate, they’re in effect leaching off everyone else.
But San Antonio is also the rare team that knows it will make the playoffs, would be better off resting its starters and has the depth to get away with it. Few, if any, teams can emulate the Spurs here.
Besides, whatever lineups Popovich uses tonight, San Antonio will probably be competitive, anyway. There’s no use getting riled up.