Saturday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich chose to rest Jakob Poeltl, DeMar DeRozan, and Patty Mills — three critical players for them — at Phoenix. It didn’t matter, the Spurs cruised to a 111-85 victory.
Sunday, the NBA announced it would fine the Spurs $25,000 for “violating the league’s player resting policy” in resting three players during a road game.
Somewhere, Gregg Popovich just shrugged.
The game against Phoenix was the second night of a back-to-back and the fifth game in seven days for San Antonio; it was the exact situation where teams rest players to help avoid injury. The league argues that the Spurs should have rested its players in front of the home fans Friday night (a loss to the Trail Blazers) rather than the road fans who don’t get to see the Spurs as often in Phoenix. It’s a policy — much like not resting players during nationally televised games — aimed more at the LeBrons/Lukas/Hardens of the league than Jakob Poeltl, but the NBA tries to be consistent.
In a compacted season with players wearing down and injuries piling up, this seems a time the league may want to back off that logic, but here we are. Teams will counter by sitting players with “injuries” — at this point in a season every player has enough bumps and bruises that they can be listed for needing a night off — rather than calling it rest. It’s a dance of the absurd.
The NBA also fined the Raptors for violation of the league’s resting/injury reporting policy. Both Toronto and San Antonio won the games for which they got fined.