Sport NBA playoffs: Spurs players question Gregg Popovich's decision to bench starters

15:45  21 april  2017
15:45  21 april  2017 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Gregg Popovich didn't intend to spend much time looking back after his questionable Game 6 strategy. His players remain believers, and for that the Spurs still have a chance. A lesser coach, a younger coach Next game, next question . Same Gregg Popovich . NBA Finals coverage on Yahoo!

Gregg Popovich ' s decision to bench his starters may have aided in the Game 3 loss, but it may prove beneficial for the Spurs later in the playoffs . Pau Gasol unfazed coming off the bench for Spurs .

There's no denying Gregg Popovich's legacy in the NBA, but sometimes even the best make mistakes. In Thursday night's 105-94 playoff loss to the Grizzlies, the Spurs coach made the decision to sit his entire starting lineup just 52 seconds into the second half.

OUT: Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon, Danny Green, Tony Parker.

IN: Patty Mills, Pau Gasol, Jonathon Simmons, David Lee, Kyle Anderson

"We turned it over twice to start the minute like we were out on a picnic someplace," Popovich said after the game. "I don't know. Those two turnovers, and then the mistake defensively where Marc [Gasol] got the 3-pointer at the top, and all of a sudden, it was a nine-point game. I thought at that point, we lost a little bit of composure and a little bit of confidence, and the rest ensued."

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Did you hear what Gregg Popovich said after Bryant and the Lakers used Pop' s Spurs to mop the courts at the Alamodome and Staples Center in the Western Conference Finals? "He' s not just going up and down the court anymore, playing on talent," Popovich said.

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The starters struggled early, so Popovich wanted to see if the bench could produce. They couldn't. After trailing by just four at halftime, the Spurs suddenly fell to a 12-point deficit on the road with 8:52 left in the third quarter. Moments later Popovich started rolling starters back into the game, but the damage was already done.

The third quarter was crucial in the Grizzlies' win as they outscored the Spurs 31-17. Considering the impact the quarter had on the game, the decision to rest starters was a clear talking point in the team's postgame press conferences.

Here's what some of the players said about their coach's decision:

Gregg Popovich © (Getty Images) Gregg Popovich

Tony Parker: "I don't know what to say."

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The Gregg Popovich and the Spurs organization should be praised for being a model franchise and not fined for strategic coaching. In the last Playoffs , the bad performance by Spurs bench players was an important factor do conference final loss.

Gregg Popovich , 1990. Original caption reads: " Spurs practice short players so this guy is practicing." San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich smiles as a question is asked during a news conference for the NBA basketball finals on Saturday, June 14, 2014, in San Antonio.

Kawhi Leonard: "He just disappointed in the last couple plays. So I guess he thought that we all should come out at the game at that time, and see if that second unit had more energy."

Manu Ginobili: "Pop got upset with the guys starting the quarter, sat them, and the whole momentum changed. In playoff games, especially on the road, a two-minute mental 'something' can become a 10-point deficit. That's what happened. We were in good shape at the half. Not playing well, not shooting great, down four on the road, and it was a good situation. It was OK for us. We had that moment there in which the whole game changed. I guess he wanted to point out that it was not the right approach to start a third quarter."

Game 3 was frustrating for the Spurs, but they still lead the series 2-1.

Gregg Popovich makes rare declaration: Kawhi Leonard is 'best player in the league' .
Kawhi Leonard elevated his game this season, making himself a legitimate MVP candidate. He somehow improved on his numbers during the Spurs' first-roundAfter the Spurs won the series 4-2 Thursday night, Leonard's coach Gregg Popovich made a bold declaration: "Kawhi Leonard is, in my opinion, the best player in the league right now. He's the best two-way player, and does it all with such class, it's impressive.

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