We here at DIME have admittedly had a love affair with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich for quite some time. To us, it often seems like he plays chess when the rest of the league is playing checkers (besides doing so with levels of class and empathy that make an impact on everyone he meets). But the man can still surprise us, and he did so on Tuesday night with an eye for detail that is simply staggering.
In Detroit to face the Pistons, Popovich noticed that the net had been replaced on one hoop but not the other. As the announcers explain in the above video, that makes a subtle difference, because the ball goes through a new net more slowly than it does an old one, affecting how quickly a ball can be retrieved for, say, a fast break. The Spurs are among the slowest-paced teams in the NBA, and while Detroit isn’t exactly Golden State in the pace department, Popovich won’t hesitate to take away an advantage they could have.
The announcers think that Pop just wanted them to be even so that one team wouldn’t be able to run on the other, but Pop knows the teams switch sides. Our guess is he just saw an opportunity to slow the Pistons down. You keep outhinking ’em, Pop.