Gregg Popovich knows he has one arrow in his quiver, one tool he can use to light a fire under his team, but he uses it sparingly. Only when absolutely needed.
Calling his team “soft.”
It took him 10 games this season to do it. After a loss on the road to the Heat Wednesday night, Popovich said this, via Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.
“I thought we were soft, undisciplined, lacking grunt factor. I thought the Heat were much more physical and committed.”
It seems to have had the desired effect.
The Spurs are not playing badly at 6-4 to start the season. They have a slightly above average offense that is a bit old-school and takes more midrange shots than any team in the NBA (48 percent of their attempts, via Cleaning The Glass), but they hit a respectable 41 percent of them, and they don’t turn the ball over. Plus, the Spurs still hustle and outwork teams. That makes up for their slightly worse than average defense.
Which is to say, at 6-4 the Spurs are about where we expected them to be (they haven’t faced the toughest parts of their schedule yet). That doesn’t make the frustrations of an ugly loss in Miami easier on Popovich.
So, he pulled out his big hammer.