- Chris Forsberg, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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The NBA penalized the Spurs Friday after coach Gregg Popovich sent stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili -- plus key role player Danny Green -- on a commercial flight home instead of playing them in a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat on Thursday with the goal of resting them ahead of the Spurs' Saturday visit from the league-leading Memphis Grizzlies.
"I don’t like it, I just don’t like it," Rivers said before Boston's game Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. "I do get the other side of it, but it’s a tough one. You have to coach your team to win in the long haul, and you have to do whatever you need to do. If that’s sitting players, then you sit players. It’s a tough one."
Would Rivers shy away from resting his veterans in a similar situation?
"Listen, we’ll do it when we want to do it. And we should be able to do it," said Rivers. "It can be early in the season, end of the season. Now if we give a guy [a day] off because he has a family thing -- it’s just so many things here. Hopefully we all figure it out.
"Whatever is going to help your team win, a coach is going to do. If you don’t, and it hurts your team, then you’re the one that won’t be around. You have to do whatever’s best for your team."
The Spurs were on the last night of a six-game road trip and a stretch of seven games in 10 days. Boston recently endured a similar game-heavy schedule and got throttled by one-win Detroit on the final night of their seven-games-in-10-days stretch. And that's with all their players available.
The Heat topped the Spurs 105-100, needing a 3-pointer from old friend Ray Allen with 22.3 seconds left for the winning points.
Said Stern in a statement: "The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case. The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team's only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans."
Last season, in the middle of the team's lone back-to-back-to-back of the lockout-condensed schedule, Rivers allowed Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to skip a game in Charlotte in April. Having played New Jersey a night earlier, the duo simply stayed in New York until the team came back to play the Knicks after that meeting with the Bobcats.
After being told how the Spurs players took a Southwest Airlines flight home, Rivers joked, "[Pierce and Garnett] got to stay in a Four Seasons. That’s pretty nice. A nice deal."
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers decried the NBA's $250,000 fine against the San Antonio Spurs and suggested it won't stop coaches from resting players during the regular season.