The San Antonio Spurs are once again defying the perception that they are getting old with their record, but veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will ride the pine on Thursday night in the team's high-profile showdown with the Miami Heat.
Spurs Nation blogger Jeff McDonald reported the news on Thursday, which included head coach Gregg Popovich's justification for holding his marquee stars out:
“We’re getting tired,” Popovich said. “We’ve had a six-day trip and a 10-day trip. Usually you don’t have that in one month.”
[Thursday]’s game will be the 12th road game of the month for the Spurs, who have been on their current six-game trip since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It is the Spurs’ fourth outing in five nights, and comes against a Miami team that hasn’t played since Saturday.
After Wednesday's win in Orlando, these players simply headed back to Texas instead of taking their talents to South Beach.
Clearly, San Antonio has encountered an unbelievably brutal schedule in terms of how many road games the squad has endured in the month of November. Even in spite of that, the Spurs continue to succeed.
As McDonald notes, too, Popovich has shown that he will hold his players out regardless of the circumstances if he feels it will be to the long-term benefit of the team.
This may be an unfortunate development for NBA fans, since the Spurs—who hold the league's best record—will be severely shorthanded in squaring off against the East leaders.
But Popovich isn't interested in what might be the popular decision, and it may be happening with increasing frequency as the season progresses, assuming the Spurs continue to perform well.
Last year was a lockout-shortened situation, and the Spurs' three studs sat out just three games in the 66-game season. With Duncan, Ginobili and Parker all 30-somethings and not getting any younger, the regular-length schedule may result in the players sitting for even more time in 2012-13.
This weekend, the Spurs get to return home, but will take on the Memphis Grizzlies in what should be a very physical affair. That is likely another factor behind Popovich's decision, since that will be a conference game with the Southwest division lead potentially at stake. LINK