Gregg Popovich reputation as the best coach in the NBA took another major hit in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night as the Spurs crushed the Heat, 113-77, to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Bench player Gary Neal took 17 shots and scored 24 points, Kawhi Leonard put up 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals and Danny Green went for 27 points — two more than Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker scored combined. Yet Popovich bristled at suggestions that his team is falling apart as nameless role players are seizing marquee roles.
"That seems to me to be a very negative way to spin it," said Popovich in his post-game press conference, when asked if the stat sheet proves his team is hopelessly disorganized. "I feel we have a team that can get contributions from any number of players."
Tim Duncan also attempted to smooth over San Antonio's obvious locker room turmoil.
"We won by, what – 36 points? A win is a win by any score, but I think that margin shows there isn't really a lot of bad stuff you can take from that game from our end," he added, clearly trying to convince himself that is true.
But in an NBA where it is established that a set "big three" is needed to lead a team to a championship, what hope to the Spurs really have without one – or with three different players stepping up each game? With players stepping far outside their presumed roles?
"If we win our fourth game in this series and it's thanks to DeJuan Blair, Paddy Mills and Tracy McGrady combining for 90 points in the clincher, I really don't care," said Popovich. "We just want to win."
Unfortunately for the Spurs, it's very unlikely a team in this much disarray could even last to a Game 5, 6 or 7.