Gregg Popovich doesn't waste words on veteran Spurs
MIAMI -- Gregg Popovich usually doesn't like saying much to the media, but sometimes he doesn't say much to his team, either.
The Spurs came into the AmericanAirlines Arena Tuesday night up 3-2 on the defending champion Heat in the NBA Finals, knowing what they have to do to hoist the winners' trophy again, knowing league MVP LeBron James will try to have his best game of the playoffs to help Miami stave off elimination.
Popovich said he saves his talking for when the game starts, when he needs to get on a player or change things because of how the Heat is playing. It's the way Popovich is, but it's also from coaching Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the cornerstones of three of the Spurs' four NBA championships.
"This group's been together a while now, the core group," Popovich said before Game 6. "I kind of have the feeling by now when I start to speak they either roll their eyes or shut off their ears, or like Timmy he looks at me and says, 'I got it,' and then I don't have to say anything."
"They're all pros. They got kids. They got families. They know what their jobs are. That's one of the reasons they're in the Finals. That's why Miami's in the Finals. You do your job."
The Spurs have done their jobs better than Miami to this point, and it had them one win from their first title since 2007.
"It's a big deal," Popovich said. "It's not the most important thing in the world as we all know. It's a big deal for a while. You go after it and life goes on."
Winning a title or losing in this round is a much bigger deal for James.
When he took his talents to South Beach, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they envisioned winning multiple rings. Miami has won three straight Eastern Conference championships, but one more loss and the Heat is runner-up for the second time in three years. That would be a major hit to James, his decision and his legacy.
No one on the Spurs has that kind of pressure. Barely anyone brings up the fact San Antonio lost in the conference finals last year after being up 2-0 on Oklahoma City. The Spurs were hoping to add to their legend by raising the championship trophy for the fifth time in the Duncan era.
If they did, it probably would be their most impressive title. Their other four weren't against a star-studded team like this or one that had the season Miami or James had.
"It would be unbelievable to win it again with Timmy and Manu," Parker said.
The Spurs' veterans have fully embraced the moment of playing in the Finals for the first time since sweeping James and Cleveland six years ago. Some younger Spurs have shined under the biggest spotlight, especially North Babylon's Danny Green.
The Long Island native set a record for three-pointers made in the NBA Finals with 25 through five games and was the Spurs' leading scorer in this series, averaging 18 points.
All that has led to Green, who was cut by the Cavaliers and Spurs and played in the D-League and overseas during his professional odyssey, being mentioned as the possible Finals MVP if San Antonio closed out the series.
"I hear the rumors and stuff," Green said. "I try not to think about it. It's not important. What's important to me is getting a win. I don't care what the numbers say or who wins individual accolades. It feels better for me for us to do something as a group."
Spoken like a true Spur.
San Antonio is the true embodiment of a team. The Spurs don't care who gets the credit or raises the MVP trophy. They can win games even when multiple members of their Big Three aren't playing up to their usual levels.
"Everybody's in the moment," Parker said. "Everybody's very focused. We were close last year. I think that's what makes it even better this year. We're more focused and don't take it for granted."