THE SAN ANTONIO Spurs played their third game in 4 days last night at the Wells Fargo Center, so it wasn't a question of whether any of their players would get the night off; it was more of who it would be.
Your answers: Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. There was no hiding the reason Duncan sat, as the report before the game was listed as rest. Parker has a rib injury, which coach Gregg Popovich said a doctor "said something about being broken."
Brett Brown knows all about the Spurs' penchant for sitting players, but certainly didn't look at it as an advantage for his team. Understandably so, as the Spurs toughed out a 109-103 win to improve to 13-4 and drop the Sixers to 0-17.
"Dangerous," is how Brown described the Spurs without two of their stars.
"I've seen it time and time and time again," Brown said. "The group that comes on the floor is excited to play more minutes, and what it does more than anything - and I remember sitting there watching it - is it validates the importance of a system. They come in and they stay in the system. They are good NBA players all wrapped up in a roof of a consistent, solid system. That's what I think of when I learn that those two players aren't playing. Still dangerous."
His team was a little less dangerous because of injuries, as Tony Wroten (knee) and Nerlens Noel (hip) sat.
The positives of resting his regulars during the season came to Popovich long ago, and he won't change his thinking about it.
"I'd learned that real quick, because we'd won it in '99 and I thought we were the best team in the league the next year, which was the first year of the Lakers and their three [titles] in a row," he said. "Timmy had a knee that was bothering him, and the doctors said that he could probably go play and I said, 'No, he ain't playing.' From that day on, we knew how important health was. So we've always sort of rested players for that reason, and, secondly, it really does build your bench."
Some good news for the future of the 76ers, as 6-10 forward Dario Saric, whom the club obtained this past draft by dealing their 10th overall pick, was named the MVP of the month for November in the Euroleague. Saric, who plays for Anadolu Efes, became the youngest winner of the award, which has been given out for 11 seasons.
Saric, 20, who is under contract in Turkey for at least this season and next, averaged 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds for the month.
"I think it is a fantastic example of Sam Hinkie's ability to draft," Brett Brown said. "I think it's a fantastic example of what we all have to look forward to and be excited about. I think that, as we go through difficulty and you lose, it's easy to get down. And then you remind yourself that Joel Embiid is going to be a unique player and Dario Saric, the youngest player in the history of the Euroleague to be named MVP, validates his skill set. Ultimately, those people will be joining us. We just have to get through this period. It is more difficult going through it now than we all had guessed. But it's important that we don't blink and understand what's most important."