The San Antonio Spurs’ system – its routine – has been lauded for years for providing consistent season after season of mindful, winning basketball. The team has been able to mix equal parts adaptability and attention to structure on its way toward four NBA championships, and that system seemed well on its way to a fifth banner in Tuesday’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals before coach Gregg Popovich decided to pull Tim Duncan in the game’s final minute so as to match up with the Miami Heat’s smaller lineup.
A five-point lead quickly evaporated into a tie ballgame, though, as the Heat crashed the offensive boards after two bad three-point misses to reconfigure and toss in two killer treys in the game’s final seconds, as Duncan watched from the sidelines. To hear the Spurs tell it on Wednesday, the lineup was normal, to be expected, and set to return should the same context spring up in Game 7.
Not new at all. Something we've done all year. Obviously we were trying to protect the three‑point line. We had a lot of bodies in there to switch and get up on our shooters. Two bad bounces off a rebound, we actually get the stops on the threes and bad bounces right back out for threes.
It is what it is. Obviously, I want to be in there every minute of the game. That's just how we're built. But we've done it all year long. We've been successful with it. And if it comes down to it again, Pop will make the call again.
Pop, earlier in the afternoon, said as much:
Read More »from Tim Duncan is not surprised Gregg Popovich sat him late in Game 6: ‘Pop will make the call again’
It's not that simple. That's not why they got the threes. We were up five when they got their first three. And so reading and switching makes sense just to take away the three.
But on an offensive rebound, it's one of the toughest things in the NBA, to pick up people. And we had one guy who didn't pick up. LeBron shot an air ball, when we were up five. They got the rebound, they got it back to him and he knocked it down.
And then on the last possession we were switching at the three‑point line to take away the three, and Boris Diaw has a little more speed than Tim