Popovich Hates 12-Game Win Streaks
Another 11-game win streak brought to an end by a road game in which none of the Big 3 play.
The writing seemed to be on the wall even before last night’s game that tonight’s game would most likely not feature many key players. With marquee games looming both Wednesday and Thursday, and with the schedule still crazy, it made sense to rest the Big 3 and let the bench play huge minutes and get some reps in.
So perhaps the game should be viewed through the prism of the fact that it was not one of the worst defeats in franchise history (like the last 11-game win streak buster in Portland, of which I was in attendance). In fact, with 4 minutes left to play, it looked like we might pull it out. But then the Jazz’s defense stiffened, their energy and desire elevated, and our players couldn’t match. A loss would have nearly eliminated the Jazz from the playoffs; a loss for the Spurs just keeps them in a near-tie for first in the West, with a playoff spot already assured.
There’s not much to take away from the game. As always, when the Big 3 are missing, the deficiencies of the role players become more glaring, as everybody slides into roles a step or two above their pay grade. But the offense is built to have everything in its right place; so when it isn’t, you just hope that the increased playing time and responsibility pay off for future situations.
I will note that a small concern I have over the last few weeks is the 3-point shooting. More often than not, we seem to have cold nights from distance. This year’s team has shown that it can still win when the outside shot stops falling; but when it is falling, we’re a nearly unstoppable offense.
Finally, just because Pop sat the stars and more or less conceded the game, don’t think he wasn’t trying to win it. Everyone on the coaching staff seemed completely invested in the game, and much more animated than normal. Not just Pop, but the entire staff. If i had to guess, I would think that the coaches might enjoy the pure act of coaching more in these games when they’re only playing role players. Then it really does become their system, with the players as just the moving parts. I think it also shows how invested the staff is in the development and success of every single person on the roster. I really enjoyed it. Coming out of halftime, the Utah broadcast showed Pop on the floor, teaching the players the intricacies of the offense and defense. During the 5-minute warm-up between halves. That’s awesome.
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