One day after completing a sweep of the Utah Jazz in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs are able to wind down and regroup before facing off against a younger and more athletic team—either the Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies—in the next round.
The Spurs’ series win over the Jazz seemed borderline effortless, as they outscored Utah by an average of 16 points per game. But anyone that has played the game of basketball knows that even the easiest of victories takes its toll.
However, this is the exact scenario that head coach Gregg Popovich prepared his team for all season long.
The shortened NBA season provided challenges for a lot of teams in dealing with roster management, but Popovich saw it as more of an opportunity to mask his propensity to sit his star players more often than other coaches. It didn’t hurt that the Spurs kept winning and had a host of players step up and accept pinpointed roles all season long, either.
Sure, the Spurs reap the spoils of having a trio of talented players headline its roster—Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and dark horse MVP candidate Tony Parker. But if not for guys like DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter to do the dirty work, the Spurs would not be in the position they currently hold. Not to mention Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson (second stint with the team) coming into the mix in the middle of the season.
The Spurs are looking for their fifth NBA title, all with Popovich as the director and Duncan playing the lead role.
Being able to sit back and relax for a few days could be just what the doctor ordered for their quest to raise another banner in the Alamo.