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Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 at 10:45 am  |  28 responses

Gregg Popovich Made Questionable Decisions Late in Game 6


The best coach in the NBA isn’t prone to making very many mistakes, but last night in a devastating Game 6 loss, Gregg Popovich made some head-scratching calls. Of course, Pop was his usual acerbically funny self when grilled by reporters afterwards. Per Yahoo! Sports: “In went Boris Diaw, 6-foot-8 and somewhat athletic. Out came Tim Duncan, 6-11 and 37 years old, but perhaps the greatest power forward of them all and certainly the greatest Spur. He owned 30 points and 16 rebounds at that moment. He was shown the bench anyway. The Spurs like to switch off picks in those moments, like to be fluid and versatile, and Gregg Popovich is not a man prone to variation or sentimentality. So for the final two Miami possessions of the fourth quarter, Duncan was out. Seconds later, a LeBron James shot bounced off the rim and high in the air. There were gasps from the crowd. Everything was floating in the balance when Chris Bosh, who Duncan had owned all night, leaped, grabbed the ball and kicked it to Ray Allen. San Antonio could’ve tried to foul in an instant, giving Allen two free throws rather than the 3-pointer that forced overtime and will go down in Finals lore. But Popovich has an answer to that foul rather than defend strategy. ‘We don’t,’ the coach said. Later in overtime, the Spurs trailed by one with 8.8 seconds left. Kawhi Leonard grabbed a rebound. San Antonio had a timeout in the bag and now the ball with a shot at everything. One basket and they’re champions. Popovich decided to let them play, rather than get Tony Parker, by far his most dynamic playmaker, into the game. No set play was called, leaving a struggling Manu Ginobili, who had seven turnovers at that point, to drive hard into traffic, essentially hoping to hit a circus shot or get bailed out by a foul. Neither happened. Miami got the ball. Allen iced it on the line. A desperation shot by Danny Green was blocked. Final score: Heat 103-100. Game 7 is Thursday. [...] This is what won the Spurs those four NBA titles, what’s made him the NBA’s finest active coach. Everything is considered beforehand and nothing shifts with the emotion of the minute, even the final minute of the Finals. The Spurs don’t foul, they defend. The Spurs switch on final possessions. The Spurs believe in playing on in transition. ‘Believe me,’ Ginobili said, ‘he had many more reasons to make [these decisions] than for [anyone] to question him.’ [...] His players remain believers, and for that the Spurs still have a chance. A lesser coach, a younger coach, and this series might be done. Only Popovich can sit Duncan, sit Parker, and have a chance to not lose the room. ‘There’s no questions there,’ Duncan assured. ‘Me, personally, I trust Pop,’ Parker said. ‘I’ll go with whatever Pop decides.’”

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  • http://www.netstakeover.com/ JetSkiJohnson

    lebron’s shoes

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Yea.. I didn’t understand why bother sitting Duncan in those last few plays….

  • Junior Taylor

    The same reason why Frank Vogel sat Hibbert and damn near every coach does whenever the opposing team goes small looking for a 3.

  • BugEyes

    Hindsight 20/20 if they win no one even imagines of bringing this up or even thinking about it. can’t question pop, he has use this before and it work out. and I know I felt crazy last night it was like soap opera times 1000 just imagine how the coaches and players felt. wonderful game

  • Stepfan Raiford

    And keeping Manu Ginobili in. 9 points 8 turnovers

  • LP @ThisisEther

    That non-timeout was questionable.. But you can’t question POP too much, he has his reasons….. Maybe wanted to let manu know he still has confidence in him… That may be key for manu in Game 7…

  • Feez_22

    The biggest pop failure imo is that he put 3 starters on the bench to start the 4th. He should have rode those starters so they could have shut the door on the heat but… he didn’t and the heat got back into the game. i understand him not having duncan in there at the end since the heat were going for 3 but…to start the 4th they could have shut that door.

  • shockexchange

    It’s a forgone conclusion on here that Popovich is an elite coach. However, his best coaching decision ever was letting the Spurs “tank” in order to draft Tim Duncan. With Duncan and David Robinson in the same line up, an “okay” coach was suddenly “elite.”

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    True, but Bosh was in. So just have Duncan on Bosh.

  • http://www.netstakeover.com/ JetSkiJohnson

    it so easy to do this after a loss.

  • Drig

    Explain how the Spurs managed to win titles after DRob left. Explain how the title they did win in Duncan’s formative years had Duncan as the Finals MVP. Formative years.

    Explain how the Spurs have consistently managed to win 50+ games over years. Explain how role players almost always make the spotlight at SAS unlike in LA. Explain why the system at SAS is raved about by every player on the team.

    Pop is an elite coach.

  • shockexchange

    The Shock Exchange agrees with you Drig. Pop is an “elite” coach and the Spurs are an “elite” franchise, especially after they tanked in order to draft Tim Duncan. Prior to that, no so much.

  • spit hot fiyah

    why on earth was splitter in instead of parker on the very last play?

  • bill

    If by “tanked” you mean “injury riddled”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Popovich

    After the Spurs got out to a 3-15 start in the 1996-97 season, with David Robinson sidelined with a preseason back injury, Popovich fired coach Bob Hill and named himself head coach. However, Robinson broke his foot after only six games and was lost for the season. Sean Elliott was also limited to 39 games due to injury, and Chuck Person and Vinny Del Negro also missed significant time. With a decimated roster, the Spurs were a rudderless team, and won only 17 games for the remainder of the season for an overall record of 20-62. However, the Spurs’ disastrous season allowed them to win the first overall pick in the NBA Lottery, which they used to draft Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest University.

  • shockexchange

    Robinson did get injured. However, he was healthy enough to come back during the season. It was also well known that San Antonio held Robinson out so that the team could lose enough games to get a lottery pick the next season.

  • http://www.offthebackboard.wordpress.com/ Off The Backboard

    I don’t understand why he rests his star players (all of them) when Lebron/Bosh are still out on the floor. At least keep one of them in. Him doing that has led to Heat runs in both game 5 and game 6.

  • bike

    Can’t help but wonder if fatigue had something to do with him sitting those guys. Pop knows them better than anyone else and I’ll bet Duncan was wore-ass out come the 4th.

    The Spurs may have burned the last drop of fuel in last nights game.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Co-sign 100%. I don’t understand resting your starters after the quarter just ended–that was rest already. This would’ve been the last game of the season anyways…

  • The Philosopher

    Loyalty.

  • danpowers

    “Gregg Popovich Made Questionable” BLASPHEMY!!!

  • https://twitter.com/jasontichenor Mr. Wet

    because they were switching every pick. if Duncan is on bosh he will immediately set the pick on the shooter. Leaving a slower scrambling Duncan to try and contain a 3.

  • pposse

    What was more of a travesty was how the game just stopped with 5 seconds to check if Ray Allens three was an actual three pointer. SA gameplan was to push even after makes, how can you push after a make when the refs want to look at a replay? Isn’t the protocol to look at the replay at the next dead ball? They could have easily took time after the game was over or when a foul was committed to look over that play. The refs aided Miami intentionally or non intentionally. When will these refs use common sense? What makes anyone think its right to disrupt the flow of the game?

  • spit hot fiyah

    that like being loyal to someone that keeps on scamming you

  • berkamore

    Thank you. I was screaming at my TV:” What are you DOING?”. SA could have iced the game right there.

    To me, that may actually have been where they lost the game, gave the Heat life. Remember, the Spurs were up by TEN at the end of the third quarter.

  • JimBoy

    that strategy failed four times (twice with hibbert and twice with duncan) losers never learn.

  • Feez_22

    ya. they could have rested in 3-4 days after their championship celebration and incessant partying. now, they are going into game 7 on the road with parker hobbled/tired, duncan tired (duncan missed every single one of his 2nd half shots and they were mostly imo due to fatigue. he was clanking them) and ginobili coming off a horrendous game seeming defeated (he said he was devastated after the game).

    This is just not looking good for the spurs come game 7 and could have all been avoided. damn. oh well… game 7 should be epic but if my hunches about the players are right, it might be a heat blowout of the spurs just due to the energy level the spurs are going to come in with and the fact that the heat will be energized at home.

  • Feez_22

    Exactly. It is just a shame the starters went to the bench instead of closing out the heat like they should have to start the 4th q.

    People always talk about the heart of a champion. Sitting the starters to start the 4th is sort of disrespecting the heart and resiliency of the defending champions in my opinion. You never play with fire. Of course, i’m no coach or basketball expert but i know that you have to go all out with your best to close out a champion. The spurs burned themselves and tbh may not recover come game 7 but who knows… no team this series has won 2 straight games yet so it will be interesting.

    I am predicting a heat blowout but anything is possible. the core trio of the spurs are multi-champions and will know what to expect.

  • https://twitter.com/jasontichenor Mr. Wet

    I’m not saying it was right or wrong, just saying why he did it.

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