Before the San Antonio Spurs tipped off against the Golden State Warriors, Gregg Popovich got asked if he was that dreaded word again. He was asked if he was "happy" with the team's play going into the playoffs this season.
Happy is not a word that coaches usually respond to. But… this is probably the least… let me put it a different way. We’ve been playing better most any other year going into the playoffs, compared to this year.
The team has been faltering down the stretch this season, but at least in past years they had something to fall back on. With the team using more of a balance tilted more to the offensive side of the ball, the Spurs have not only been having trouble scoring without Tony Parker but also having a hard time defending when the pressure is to make up what they've lost on both sides of the ball. (Blogs.MercuryNews.com)
Pop also made it known whether it was just a team issue or a health issue.
That’s part of it–the health issue, different line-ups all the time based on what’s happened the later part of the season is certainly a part of it. But I also think that our focus hasn’t been as good as it needs to be the last three to four weeks.
I’ve been disappointed in our focus, and the defensive improvements that we’ve made this year I think have dissipated to some degree.
With the Spurs losing Manu Ginobili off the bench, Tony Parker to various injuries, and resting Tim Duncan, we've seen strange lineups compared to Spurs' standards. An example of that is the recent game against the Warriors where Spurs fans not only saw Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair start alongside each other, but saw Bonner as the starting small forward.
This could factor in as one oft he many reasons why the Spurs have been struggling on both ends of the floor and also may be needing to rekindle that chemistry they once had. This is especially true from the bench with Gary Neal playing late in the season over Nando De Colo and Patrick Mills, who saw more minutes early on than they are right now.
The Spurs play tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves and will look to regain any momentum they can heading into the playoffs. With Manu Ginobili coming back for the final game of the regular season, this will be their only chance to get into some groove before the playoffs.