The San Antonio Spurs’ bench became the center of attention last week when they pushed the defending champion Miami Heat to the limit. The Spurs lost the game 105-100 but just the fact that their second-stringers hung with LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the rest was impressive in itself.
The blemish of one loss on the record may have been worth it to give the bench that type of confidence and experience going forward. Manu Ginobili says the showing against the Heat was impressive, but those guys deserve to be on the floor.
"That always helps, but the bottom line is that they are good,” Ginobili said. “They can play. Pop always gives them confidence. They know that when they are on the court that they have freedom to play and do their thing[.]"
You can’t understate the importance of having backups that can come in and not miss a beat. The depth of the Spurs’ bench has been one of the big reasons for their success.
It’s always interesting to see what happens when Coach Pop has his “rest games” where the starters take the night off and we get to watch and see what the bench can do. Of course, now he has to be a little more careful how and when he chooses to do that, or else he could be looking at another fine from commissioner David Stern. Knowing Pop, he’s probably going to do what he wants, whether or not Stern agrees. He knows how important it is to get those bench guys in there to get their playing time and experience.
Manu is right, though. Those guys can play. As the season wears on and the Spurs battle injuries and fatigue, we’re going to see more playing time from the bench guys. Luckily for the Spurs, no one is really complaining about that.