If the Bench is Doing Well, Let Them Play
With five minutes left in the first quarter, the Spurs were already down by 12 points. At this point, I figured the game was probably over and knew I had two hours of bad basketball to look forward to. As I settled in for the ride, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Doug McDermott were all subbed out for Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Bryn Forbes, and Keita Bates-Diop.
Usually, I try not to get too excited about the second unit, but all four guys have been playing well recently, so I put down my snacks and paid attention.
It took about 14 seconds for Devin Vassell to dunk the basketball, which meant it took about 15 seconds for me to get excited again. By the end of the quarter, the Spurs remained down, this time by 15 points. However, by the midway point of the second quarter, the Spurs were within eight.
Between the hustle plays Tre Jones and Devin Vassell brought to the court and the scoring of Bryn Forbes and Keldon Johnson, I thought the Spurs were on the way to a comeback by halftime. Then, the starters checked back in, Doug McDermott missed three shots in a row, and by the half, the deficit was back to 16 points. The Spurs never really got back into the game.
The starters outscored the bench 68-47, but the starters combined for 145 minutes of play while the bench (seven players) got only 96 minutes of action combined. If both the first and second units received equal playing time, the bench would have scored 71 points.
Obviously, the starters do get more time for a reason: they’re simply better players. But on Wednesday, the bench was a lot more productive than the starting five, and they should have gotten to run the show.