Spurs use a bit of a smokescreen on the Heat
AT&T CENTER — Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich is a pretty no nonsense type of guy. Most of the time, when he’s asked about a particular player coming to town or system the Spurs are going up against, his answer is usually something along the lines of “if we do what we do, we’ll be fine.”
But with the Miami Heat coming to town, Coach Pop called a bit of an audible. Tony Parker was scheduled to be out 2-4 weeks with a strained soleus muscle. Apparently Tony started feeling better pretty quick. But instead of running him out there and declaring him game-ready, the Spurs made it look like they were taking it slow.
Jeff McDonald of the Express-News mentioned that he chatted with Parker in passing after morning shootaround on Friday and TP told Jeff that he wasn’t supposed to run or shoot or anything like that.
Even during pre-game shootaround a couple of hours before the game, Tony was gingerly jogging around the putting up jump shots for Tiago Splitter to battle a couple of assistant coaches for.Â It looked like it was going to be a while longer before we were going to see Tony Parker on the floor for the Spurs.
And then Coach Pop held his pre-game press conference where we discovered that not only was Tony Parker going to play against the Heat, he was going to start. It took us a few questions to comprehend what Pop was actually telling us.
Turns out, it looks like the Spurs might have been bluffing all along on Friday, not giving the Heat a chance to prepare for Parker’sÂ presenceÂ in the lineup by keeping everyone outside of the team in the dark. According to Manu Ginobili, the team knew Friday morning that Parker was going to play.
“I kind of expected him to play on Sunday [against the Lakers] because I talked to him and he told me he was feeling pretty well, that [his recovery] was going to be quicker than expected,” Manu said. “It was great news when this morning we found out [he was going to play].”
Who knows how much of an advantage keeping the Heat in the dark was? Miami Head Coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t seem to think it made much of a difference in the Spurs’ 125-95 win over the Heat.
“I don’t think it would’ve mattered one way or another,” he said. “They were playing at a completely different speed than us.”
He may be right, but it’s nice to see Coach Pop play a little chess in the regular season every now and then.