It's not unlike other moves Popovich has made before; in fact, not only did he give Duncan, Parker and Ginobili time off together toward the end of last season, which was condensed by a lockout, he actually flew home to San Antonio with them and took a two-game, pre-playoff sabbatical.
Popovich said he's gotten letters in the past from fans upset about similar moves, adding that he understands their point and asking that they understand his: He thinks rest is necessary for a roster like San Antonio's. And this decision, Popovich said, wasn't about the fact that the Spurs were facing Miami — it was more about a home matchup with surging Memphis on Saturday.
"Perhaps it'll give us an opportunity to stay on the court with Memphis on Saturday night," Popovich said. "Historically, when you're on a long road trip, that first game when you come home is really tough. And Memphis is one of the best teams in the league. They're of much more concern to us than playing four games in five nights. It's pretty logical."
Given Stern's statement, it's also logical to think that the Spurs could know their penalty by Saturday as well.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Popovich's move didn't affect Miami's preparation.
"Each organization has a big-picture view of what they are trying to get accomplished and I think the league respects that," Spoelstra said.
In this case, maybe not.
NOTES: Miami last played on Saturday, at home; San Antonio had played on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, all on the road. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for Sasha McHale, the daughter of Houston coach Kevin McHale. Sasha McHale died Saturday at age 23. ... It was the third straight home game in which Miami trailed in the fourth quarter. ... The back-and-forth game ended a run of blowouts in the Heat-Spurs series. The previous five meetings were decided by an average of 24.8 points, including three 30-point games — two of those Spurs wins in San Antonio, the other a Heat win in Miami.
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