For the San Antonio Spurs, having the “Big Three” of Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker along with other key players missing time is almost like a trip to the dentist. You know it is going to happen, and you do your best to deal with it.
Through the first half of the 2013-2014 season, the Spurs bench did a valiant job of holding down the fort while various starters missed time. Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli and Boris Diaw have done superb jobs of stepping up. With their efforts, the Spurs were able to maintain the number two seed in the Western Conference, and now following Oklahoma City Thunder’s lost versus the Los Angeles Lakers, the Spurs have possession of the top seed.
With a full compliment of weapons back in place, people outside of the Alamo City are viewing upcoming match ups against the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trailblazers as put up or shut up games.
While the games are great for confidence building of the team and help with the playoff seeding, they are not necessarily make or break games in terms of whether the team is a serious contender for the title. They will help the coaching staff more than the players themselves. These games will show how the team is meshing together with everyone back, and help coach Gregg Popovich in making decisions to set up a rotation going into the playoffs.
Mills, Diaw, and Belinelli will have to continue to their performance with fewer minutes on the floor. While having the “Big Three” is great, the bench is going to be a big part of the playoff run. Having the bench able to play to the middle of the fourth quarter will help keep the “Big Three” fresh for the end of the game situations.