Thursday night's marquee nationally televised Spurs-Heat game will be lacking much of San Antonio's star power, possibly because Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wants to send a message to NBA commissioner David Stern.
Popovich has sent four of his top five leading scorers home to San Antonio. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green did not travel with the team following Wednesday night's win in Orlando. The quartet will get an extra day of rest prior to Saturday's home game against Southwest Division contender Memphis.
Popovich bemoaned the most demanding November road schedule in team history prior to the Orlando game.
“We’re getting tired,” Popovich said. “We’ve had a six-day trip and a 10-day trip. Usually you don’t have that in one month.”
Less than 24 hours later, the ripples of Popovich's decision will be felt all the way to the offices -- and ratings book -- of TNT and the NBA.
The absence of Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Green means the Spurs -- who are already missing injured small forward Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson -- will tip off against the defending NBA champions with nine players.