Edit: Manu Ginobli will be playing in tonight's game after a decision today from Spurs staff.
Tony and Manu are already declared out for this game. Do you think that Pop might sit Tim Duncan as well? Is Popovich going to have whomever plays coming out guns blazing, or in full-on coast mode?
If Pop decides to rest Duncan, it would fly in the face of how they typically handle these situations. The Spurs don't usually sit him after a day off on the first night of a back-to-back, but then again, at this time of the season, normal rules don't necessarily apply.
I expect Duncan to play, though, as San Antonio still has a reason to play. The "magic number" remains two wins to secure the top seed, and I think that's important to them at this point despite what a lot of folks may think. Seeding isn't everything, but they'll take it if they can get it. Though not at the expense of team health.
As for how the Spurs will play, I'm intrigued to see, actually.
There's definitely been a "let's just get to the damn playoffs already" kind of feeling with this team, even during the recent winning streak (which they kind of hated). Now, as they try to prevent some catastrophic late-season injury rash, I don't know how they come out guns blazing.
But remember, San Antonio plays at about 80 percent at all times -- never too high or low. So, they might come out on fire even if they're in coast mode. I still don't expect an explosive Spurs team in this one.
If the Mavericks win against the Spurs, Dallas can be very close to clinching playoff spot. What do you think the odds are that Dallas can pull out a win against - probably - the best team in the league?
I think they're good. The Spurs are now dealing with a couple of injuries while trying to get some pre-playoff rest, and the Mavs are still fighting for their playoff lives and playing well in the process. We're going to see a more motivated Dallas team on the court for this one, which might be enough against San Antonio this time around.
But they're going to have to play better defensively than they have during the teams' prior meetings. The Spurs' system can put up a bunch of points even without Parker and Ginobili, as they've shown many times before.
In some ways, the Spurs have had their most impressive season in franchise history this year. Who or what do you think is responsible for such an insane feat?
Oh, it's got to be the team's depth. The Spurs' bench is scoring at the highest rate in franchise history, and it's allowed for less dependency on the old guys.
San Antonio comes at you in waves, whether it's the interchangeable parts in the starting lineup or the second unit as a whole, and that constant, amazingly efficient offensive pressure for 48 minutes is just too much for all but a handful of NBA teams.
And I really think that's been the biggest reason. during those random stretches where you'd expect them to drop a few games here and there, you see Patty Mills go off for 34 points or Marco Belinelli for 27, and they win by double-digits.
Every team has those "should win" games that they lose, but it rarely happens to the Spurs. They're a ridiculous 31-2 against teams with below-.500 records, so that's where it starts. The consistency is remarkable.
Other than that, the development of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter has been huge, and it's made this version of the Spurs a better one than the Finals team from last season.
Can you just share your favorite Gregg Popovich story with us? Please?
Well, his pre-Game-7 presser from the Finals was incredible, but I'll go with something more behind the scenes. My favorite moment, I think, came before the Heat played in San Antonio on Easter last season.
Miami decided last second to rest Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, which obviously stirred up some commotion after the Spurs so notoriously sent all those guys home before the team's trip to South Beach earlier in the season.
After we learned of the lineup changes, we headed to the Popovich interview and he was asked whether he knew the Heat would be sitting their stars. He froze, his mouth dropped open and he stumbled backward grasping for the walls in an incredible show of feigned shock. Then he recovered:
"THEY ARE?! WHAT KIND OF BULLSHIT IS THAT?!"
I don't have the quote in front of me, but I'm not really paraphrasing. It was great.
The ‘media scrum laugh' is always a very prevalent part of pre- and post-game pressers, but this was legitimately funny. So you can imagine how hard media folks laugh when what the coach just said was ACTUALLY FUNNY.
But Pop continued to chide Miami for sitting its stars before his smirk overcame him. There have been plenty of the "angry Pop" moments, but that was probably my favorite story from all the pre-game pressers I've been around over the last three years.