The San Antonio Spurs eliminated the Golden State Warriors Thursday night and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors made a run in the fourth quarter and cut the lead down to two points. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich decided to make an adjustment by sitting Tim Duncan down the stretch and playing small ball.
"I made that choice" Popovich said after the game. While he did not reveal his reasoning, it is adjustments like this that can change the outcome of the game. Duncan had been an efficient source of offense for the Spurs through the first three quarters of the game, scoring on seven of his 11 field goals:
However, in the fourth quarter Duncan was no longer producing for San Antonio. Duncan took two field goals and missed each. The Warriors were attacking the paint and challenging the Spurs' bigs out of the pick and roll.
Suddenly, Golden State had pulled to within two points. Duncan scored zero points in the fourth quarter with one rebound and one turnover. In the fourth quarter, the Spurs scoring differential was -3 when Duncan was on the floor -- worst of any Spur.
Perhaps the discussion would be different had the Warriors completed their comeback in the final minutes while Popovich sat Duncan, but the coaching adjustment he made helped the Spurs finish off the Warriors in Oakland, and they are now four wins away from advancing to the NBA Finals.
(Quote streamed from NBA.com)