San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich knows the long-term benefits of resting players far exceed any short-term benefits. And that was evident last night in the Spurs' loss to the Utah Jazz.
Though the team fought tooth-and-nail until the waning moments of the fourth quarter, the Spurs couldn't extend their winning streak to 12. This was mainly because Pop chose to rest the Spurs' trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Without the "Big 3," it was almost a sure thing the Spurs would lose to the Jazz.
Regardless, the Spurs still sit atop the Southwest Division at 40-15 and now trail the Thunder for the West's top seed by one game.
However, for as much as Pop sees the benefit of resting his top players, Utah's Paul Millsap felt the move was an insult to the Jazz and added some extra motivation.
Millsap acknowledged his team was insulted by Popovich's gamble, saying the Jazz took extra inspiration from the no-show.
"I think that was a little motivation that … got us through, just thinking about that," Millsap said.
OK Millsap. Calm down.
The move wasn't intended to insult you or the Jazz but just a move to make sure Tim, Tony and Manu are rested not only for the upcoming playoffs but for a grueling schedule ahead. The Spurs face the Lakers quite a bit and face the Grizzlies in the coming days.
This was simply a prudent move by Pop who recognizes it is just for survival.
We're trying to survive. Our schedule speaks for itself. If you look at the schedule, you can figure it out real quickly.
Nonetheless, Millsap needs to take a second look at the win over San Antonio. It took a late fourth quarter surge by the Jazz to put away the Spurs without the "Big 3." It is safe to say even without the Spurs' "Big 3," Utah still struggled.