Tuesday 18th June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Gregg Popovich is Happy with How the Spurs Fared in Their First Year without Tim Duncan


Gregg Popovich has high expectations every season for his San Antonio Spurs, but he’s also a realist. And so, he is anything except upset over the year ending in a Western Conference Finals sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors—especially when you consider it was the team’s first season without Tim Duncan being in the locker room.

From ESPN.com’s Michael C. Wright:

“I’m really happy for the group,” Popovich said. “There’s only one happy team out of 30. At the end of the day, everybody else is sad at some point. But if you have half a brain, you put things in perspective.

“For the first year without Timmy’s leadership, and [with] a lot of new players, these guys got it together to win 61 games, and just got better and better as the playoffs proceeded. We were basically on a pretty good roll starting Game 1 at Golden State. Some bad fortune, which happens to all of us at some point in our lives, and we don’t get to be the last team standing. But when I think about what they accomplished, they deserve a lot of credit.”

This season might arguably be Popovich’s best coaching job ever. Yes, he had Kawhi Leonard, which helps. But the Spurs cobbled together the NBA’s best defense despite handing heavy minutes to LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, David Lee and Tony Parker. That’s truly, and ridiculously, incredible.

Ending the year on a sweep stings. Game 1 makes it worse. The Spurs were in absolute control until Kawhi Leonard went down with his ankle injury. But that’s also part of the success. There was no chance the Spurs were going to win the series with Leonard out. In the short time he was on the floor, they suggested, if proved, they could hang with perhaps the best team in NBA history.

Attach all this context to San Antonio finishing the regular season with the second-best record, and it’s hard to be disappointed in this group. The Spurs have some tough decisions to make this summer, but they overachieved at the highest level possible, proving that, for now, they’ll be just fine without the lifeblood of their franchise, Mr. Tim Duncan.

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