The San Antonio Spurs are on their way to the Western Conference Final of the NBA Playoffs for the 14th time in franchise history. On Thursday, the Spurs beat the Houston Rockets 114-75 to win the Western Conference semi-final 4-2.
However, it is not only the fact that the Spurs hammered the Rockets by 39 points in an NBA elimination playoff game that was significant, it was the fact that the Spurs were without six-time all-star point guard and 2007 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, Tony Parker, and 2014 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, Kawhi Leonard.
With the injuries to two core players on the Spurs (Parker is out for the rest of the playoffs with a ruptured left quadricep and Leonard missed game six against the Rockets because of a sprained ankle), Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich needed to make some necessary adjustments. He continued to start Australian Patty Mills at the point guard position and moved shooting guard Jonathan Simmons into the starting rotation for Leonard. Even though the Spurs had two natural shooting guards in their starting lineup (the other was Danny Green), San Antonio got outstanding offensive production from their starting lineup as all five players reached double digits in scoring. LaMarcus Aldridge had 34 points, Simmons had 18 points, Mills had 14 points and Green and Pau Gasol each had 10 points.
There is no question the Spurs have been great since the turn of the century and most of the credit goes to the dominant Spurs trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Parker. However, Popovich deserves much of the credit for Thursday's win. His coaching decisions were key and continue to be a major part of San Antonio's overall success. Popovich is also the current head coach of the United States men's basketball team.