Jun 10, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reacts during the fourth quarter of game three of the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
One win away from their fifth NBA title, the San Antonio Spurs have clearly showcased what having a great coach does for a team.
Gregg Popovich showing his clear superiority over Erik Spoelstra
It’s important to preface this by saying no coach wins two championship rings by accident and it also must be made clear the NBA Finals are not over. Still, it’s hard not to see the clear difference that mark the 2013 and 2014 finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. Erik Spoelstra deserves credit for winning two championships. In many cases his impact was a major contribution to the success outside of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. However, this latest series has shown that in spite of his previous success, he simply isn’t in the same league as Gregg Popovich. The wily future Hall of Fame coach of the Spurs has outclassed Spoelstra in every way possible from game planning to motivation. San Antonio is shooting better, passing better and playing defense better than Miami is and that’s why they are up 3-1 in the series and have dominated a Heat team twice in their own building.
Boris Diaw and Danny Green are prime example of Popovich effect
Winning four championships already has secured the legacy of who Greg Popovich is but it’s been his rallying of the Spurs from their heartbreaking defeat in the Finals last June that may become the true feather in his cap. Every adjustment he’s made in preparation for a rematch with the Heat has been clearly felt from the quicker transition defense to the prime execution on offense. More than that though is his multidimensional ability to manage the roster. Among the bigger stories is the emergence of guard Danny Green as a key shooter, proving Popovich’s ability to develop young talent. Another was a simple tweak in the roster, replacing center Tiago Splitter in the starting lineup with Boris Diaw because he offered better matchups. Those two players have proven absolutely crucial to the Spurs’ ability to handle the Heat they way they have and Popovich sits at the center of it.
Miami and LeBron James still have time to rally, but if the more likely scenario happens and the San Antonio Spurs close out the series at home, then it will just be further validation that they have the best coach in the business in Gregg Popovich.