I guess the San Antonio Spurs had to figure a few things out early in the regular season, because I have no idea how they've lost fourteen games thus far? But I'm the one who keeps saying it over and over - anything goes in this strange lockout-shortened NBA season.
I agree with what the great Sean Elliott said the other night. The Spurs DO have two starting lineups. It's amazing the strings that Coach Popovich has pulled this season. Signings like the return of Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw appears positive and Patrick Mills is working out alright thus far. This team is deep! It's almost like tired legs should never be an issue. And in what this season is, we've already seen it pay huge dividends. Just off the top of my head, Manu didn't play at Oklahoma City, and the Spurs won that game. Tim Duncan was off a few days ago against Philadelphia, and the Spurs won that game.
Everything I say is predicated around normal thoughts, but then I always catch myself and remind myself, again, that nothing is normal about this NBA regular season. So for the Spurs, following road games at Cleveland and Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, they will NOT have two off days in a row the rest of this regular season. So what's the measure of Pop's greatness? We're about to find out again.
San Antonio still has time to catch the Thunder in the race for the West's top spot, but in the end, it probably doesn't matter that much. Right now Denver and the Rockets cling to the seven and eight spots in the standings - teams the Spurs have lost to this season. As we speak, the Spurs have a solid lock on the second spot in the West, but their last sixteen regular season games are gonna be a challenge with so little time to rest.
Coach Popovich has been praised time and again this season for his ability to manage minutes. He's been right down the middle in that area knowing, of course, that he and everybody else have never been through a season like this one. And here's what you have to admire and respect about Pop - He'll sacrifice a game, maybe more than that down the stretch of the regular season, if it means a deeper playoff run and a chance at another world championship. And the confidence to do that? Well, that's the measure of the Spurs' greatness - past and present.