The San Antonio Spurs have lost just five of their last 34 road games. Making this 29-5 (. 853) record away from AT&T Center more remarkable is that three of those losses came when coach Gregg Popovich opted to rest his Big Three of Tim Duncan (36 years old), Manu Ginobili (35) and Tony Parker (30).
If the Spurs don't go Big Three-less, we're looking at a potential 32-2 (. 941) record — on the road. Seems rather ridiculous to question the tactics of someone who coaches a team that good, don't you think?
A breakdown of San Antonio's last five road losses:
Feb. 21, 2012, at Portland (137-97): The Spurs were 7-0 on a nine-game road trip when Popovich opted to rest the Big Three. The Trail Blazers jumped out to a 41-23 lead after the first quarter and won by 40 despite scoring just three points in the final 3:11 of the game. The Blazers' biggest lead was 48 (134-86).
March 17, 2012, at Dallas (106-99): No free passes for the struggling world champion Mavericks in this one. Dallas entered with a 25-20 record, but rode 11 3-pointers, 27 points from Dirk Nowitzki, 14 points and 10 assists from Jason Kidd, plus 17 points off the bench from sharpshooter Jason Terry, to post the win.
April 9, 2012, at Utah (91-84): This being a one-game road trip and the second game of a back-to-back against the Jazz, Popovich called it a “no brainer” to sit the Big Three at a place that consistently boasts one of the league's best home-court advantages. Two days later, the Spurs lost at home by 14 to the Lakers.
Nov. 7, 2012, at Los Angeles Clippers (106-84): This was an old-fashioned whoopin' at the hands of the Clippers, who had seven players score in double-digits. Meanwhile, no Spurs starter played more than 24 minutes. Parker had four points, four turnovers and shot 2 for 7. Ginobili shot 2 for 8 and had nine points.
Nov. 28, 2012, at Miami (105-100): The Big Three, plus Danny Green, flew home, and what remained of the Spurs' roster scared the living daylights out of the world champion Heat, leading 98-93 with 2:14 left in the game. “Man,” Spurs forward Matt Bonner said, “it would've been great if we won.” No kidding.
Note: On the final two regular-season games of a 66-game schedule, Popovich and the Big Three were home in San Antonio when the Spurs won at Phoenix on April 25, 2012, and won again the following night at Golden State.