San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, and he cemented his legacy last season by becoming the winningest coach of all time. . If that wasn’t enough, he has five championships, an Olympic gold medal, and many other accomplishments on his resume.
Of course, he didn’t get there without great players, but his terrific coaching decisions were a big part of Spurs’ success, especially in the playoffs. With that in mind, let’s review and rank Pop’s biggest playoff training decisions of the past decade.
Prior to the first-round series against the LA Clippers in 2015, it was unclear who two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard would keep. That said, most weren’t expecting it to be JJ Redick, as elite defenders aren’t usually asked to stop top players.
However, Popovich saw things differently and unleashed Leonard on Redick. That kept the Clippers’ leading shooter and third-best player from firing and slowed a Chris Paul-led offense that featured peak Blake Griffin.
Indeed, during the regular season, the Clippers had the best offensive rating in the NBA but scored four points less per 100 possessions against the Spurs in this series. It helped Spurs to two tough road wins and took a more talented side to a seventh game.
Unfortunately, Spurs lost Game 7 thanks in part to a questionable foul in the last minute of the game. Still, Popovich’s decision put Spurs in the best position to win the series.