Throughout the Gregg Popovich era, the San Antonio Spurs have done things their way, at times incurring the wrath of a broader basketball culture that considers marketing and fan service to be paramount virtues. That disregard for the NBA's business interests was never made clearer than in November 2012 when Popovich sat four of his top five players for a marquee, nationally televised TNT game against the defending champion Miami Heat. Commissioner David Stern responded by levying an unprecedented $250,000 fine against the franchise , but Popovich did the same thing a little more than a month later for a locally televised game against the New York Knicks without seeing repercussions.
On Thursday night, Popovich will test Stern's resolve for another TNT game. As announced by the Spurs on Twitter, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will join the injured Tony Parker on the sidelines when the team faces off against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland:
Both Tim Duncan (rest) and Manu Ginobili (rest) will not play in tonight's Spurs-Warriors game.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 19, 2013
Additionally, Tony Parker will miss his second consecutive game after suffering a right shin contusion against the L.A. Clippers on Monday. — San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 19, 2013
Although Popovich has rested players in these situations before, it's safe to say this situation is different due to the game's status as a nationally televised rematch of last spring's fantastic second-round playoff series. However, there are reasons to think that Stern won't care much.
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Mario Chalmers had a rough outing on Wednesday night, lined up against the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers. His Miami Heat eventually won the contest, but Chalmers struggled all night with his shooting ( 1 of 5 from the field ) and decision-making (two turnovers in under 19 minutes, but also some dodgy passes that led to eventual Heat turnovers later in the possession). And he especially struggled with his defense. After one miscommunication left Pacer star swingman Paul George wide open for a 3-pointer that George swished, LeBron James was seen snarling on the court as the Heat made their way to the offensive end. Chalmers response? He turned the ball over on the next possession. During the next timeout, and apparently after Chalmers said something in defense of his defense, James lashed out at the Heat point guard. Watch: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did well to both attempt to calm the waters and take advantage of Roy Hibbert’s absence in the interior in the next play, sending James to the hook on a backdoor cut. As you can see in the video above, Chalmers threw a bad pass and the Heat turned it over. Yikes. Soon after, though, the Heat began to rally behind James’ penetration and Dwyane Wade’s post-up work, cutting the Pacers’ lead down to five. During an Indiana timeout, taken to attempt to limit Miami’s momentum, James offered this to Chalmers: “I was wrong, my bad.” Nicely done, LBJ. Even if Chalmers may have been the one screwing up both on the court and on the sideline. Following the game, James hopped on Twitter to bash things out about his relationship with his mate Mario: I love @mchalmers15 like a blood brother! I was wrong and apologized to him! We good and will always be good. I ride wit him any & every day — LeBron James (@KingJames) December 19, 2013 And Chalmers responded: All good big bro @KingJames . At the end of the day we brothas and nothin gonna change that — Mario Chalmers (@mchalmers15) December 19, 2013 In all, a sound bit of leadership from the league’s MVP. Of course, a comeback win over a noted rival helps ease the tension, especially in the midst of the most-watched game of the NBA’s season so far. You don’t want to come off as the big bully, going after the widdle point guard, in front of millions. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
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Paul George may be the Indiana Pacers’ MVP candidate , but time and time again it has been proven that Pacer center Roy Hibbert is the team’s literal most valuable player. This was more than evident last week, when Hibbert was the dominant go-to force on both ends in Indiana’s comeback win over the Miami Heat, and it was certainly evident in Miami tonight. Hibbert was hampered by foul trouble all night, leading to diminished returns from Indiana as the defending champs came back from 15 points to win by a 97-94 score.
Pacer coach Frank Vogel, after years of watching Hibbert grow from a foul-prone youngster into a Defensive Player of the Year-level star, made the curious decision to leave the big man on the court even after he picked up his fourth foul just minutes into the second half. Hibbert, who has lowered his fouls per 36 minutes from 7.7 in his rookie season to just 3.6 this year, then picked up his fifth foul with the Pacers up nine points with eight and a half minutes to go in the third, and had to sit for the majority of the second half.
The Pacers eventually built the lead back up to 15, but Miami’s move to a bigger lineup eventually wore on Indiana. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra ran reserve center Chris Andersen alongside Chris Bosh, while LeBron James’ penetration and Miami’s constant movement allowed the Heat to come back and eventually secure the win.
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