The San Antonio Spurs went into their game on Thursday night with Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili all on the sidelines, Parker due to injury and the other two being rested because, well, they’re old. Given that and the fact that the Spurs were facing a talented Golden State Warriors team, it seemed like a loss was on the docket for San Antonio in a night of limited NBA action.
However, the Spurs’ role players came out and delivered a fantastic come-from-behind performance against the Warriors. They were playing fantastic defense, forcing Golden State to commit 24 turnovers on the night. Moreover, the Spurs hit 40.7 percent of their threes on the night, which is big in combating the Warriors.
In terms of individual performances, Kawhi Leonard stepped up to add 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, Patty Mills put up 20 points, two assists, five boards and three steals and Marco Belinelli caught fire off of the bench to put up 28 points, two rebounds and one assist for San Antonio. Tiago Splitter played poorly, but his timely tip-in with two seconds left ultimately grabbed the Spurs the 104-102 win.
While this game was obviously a testament to the talent of the Spurs’ role players, it’s more of a testament to head coach Gregg Popovich. One of the things that has made San Antonio special over the past decade and especially recently is their ability to succeed no matter if they’re resting players or not. With a seemingly rotating cast of role players, that’s obviously a testament to Pop.
Popovich’s system simply works. No matter who’s playing, he knows how to get his team to play in a disciplined matter and to have their offense still be based on movement and ball-movement. Obviously this team doesn’t want to play night-in and night-out without their big three, but as long as Popovich is in San Antonio, it feels like this team will have success.