“Murray, a rookie, played this season in only two scenarios: garbage time and when Tony Parker got hurt.”
One of the things besides resting people that makes Popovich’s roster management different is that he very often starts people from the end of the bench when somebody gets hurt. Murray started 8 games during the regular season and 2 so far in the playoffs. And Popovich also plays his ‘units’ in staggers that are different than the NBA standard. So the second units play against the other teams starters. And.. In ‘garbage time’, the Spurs are executing and Popovich is coaching. Their ‘garbage time’ minutes are meaningful from a system perspective. I watched a couple games late this season where the other team needed a win while Pop was resting the starters and 4 out of 5 or all of the second unit. The other team needed to leave their starters in to protect their lead because San Antonio was playing hard and not just doing the garbage time hero ball thing. I’m a hometown Blazers ‘fan’, and I cant help but notice all the little things the Spurs do differently. Obviously it adds up- they are consistently very good to great for a bunch of reasons.