Early in the N.B.A.’s only first-round playoff series that stretched to seven games, it was suggested to Tim Connelly, the Denver Nuggets’ president of basketball operations, that a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs was actually a good thing for his young team.
Facing the Gregg Popovich-led Spurs, Connelly was told, would be like going to Playoff School for Denver, a group that brought the West’s No. 2 seed to the matchup — but virtually no postseason experience.
“They’re the gold standard of the N.B.A., with maybe the best coach of all time,” Connelly countered, shooting down the theory as quickly as he heard it.
“You never want to see the Spurs.”
To Connelly’s delight, Denver went from nearly losing the first two games at home to the uber-prepared No. 7 seed to staring the Spurs down and closing them out Saturday night. In a winner-take-all Game 7, Nikola Jokic (21 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists) posted another triple-double, and the Nuggets hung on for a 90-86 victory. The result was a series that felt like an upset no matter what the regular-season standings said — especially since it ended with Popovich inching onto the Pepsi Center floor during live play in the final seconds and screaming in vain for LaMarcus Aldridge or Patty Mills to commit a foul that never came.
Imagine that: A remedial execution error sealed the Spurs’ second straight first-round ouster. Veterans like Aldridge and Mills shouldn’t have to be told to foul when trailing by 4 points inside the closing 30 seconds.
Not long after Kawhi Leonard rumbled for a decisive 45 points in Toronto’s series-opening victory over Philadelphia, Popovich was thus left to process back-to-back Round 1 exits for the first time in his storied coaching career.
A foul, of course, was unlikely to have saved the visitors at that stage, with Denver holding a two-possession lead. Yet it was a decidedly un-Spurs-like ending to a first season post-Kawhi that generally exceeded expectations — an ending that, just like that, ushered Pop and Co. to an apparent crossroads.
After an N.B.A. record 22 consecutive playoff appearances by the Spurs, all overseen by Popovich, all of San Antonio now awaits a firm declaration from the coach who is synonymous with the Alamo City’s beloved Spurs that he intends to return.
In January, when The New York Times asked him directly if he planned to carry on, Popovich admitted that “I don’t know the answer.”
After the Spurs’ elimination late Saturday, Popovich was asked about his expiring contract and coaching this group next season. He spoke for a full 40 seconds — far longer than he usually grants from the postgame interview podium. His answer, though, included no mention of signing a new deal. Popovich, in fact, didn’t address his status at all, focusing on the fact that the projected return of the injured guard Dejounte Murray ensures that “it won’t be the same team.”
Clarity could be coming this week, perhaps as early as Monday, as Popovich typically conducts one last session with the news media shortly after the Spurs’ final game. Yet there has been no formal update on the matter since our story in January, when Connelly’s San Antonio counterpart, R. C. Buford, would only say, “He’ll coach as long as he wants to coach.”
This much is certain: Popovich is committed to coach the United States men’s national team — his dream job — for the next two summers. It is a commitment that has led numerous league observers to surmise that coaching the Spurs for one more season and walking away after the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is the most natural scenario.
Yet it must be noted, once again, that there is less than two weeks between the FIBA World Cup in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 and the start of Spurs training camp. For just the fourth coach in league history to do this job at age of 70, that would offer an extremely short turnaround.
Hard as it can be to try to read the former Air Force Academy officer who once aspired to a career in military intelligence, it is also natural to wonder whether Popovich still finds the grind sufficiently enjoyable to persist. There have been enough credible rumblings to the contrary over the season to believe that the campaign was much more of a strain than it appeared.
This wasn’t merely the first full season of his coaching life in which Popovich couldn’t lean on Tim Duncan, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili. It was also Year 1 after Leonard became the first Popovich-era player to force his way out of town via trade.
San Antonio had to overcome the season-ending loss of its top defender in Murray in October, along with an 11-14 start, just to keep its seemingly interminable streak of reaching the postseason intact. In the Denver series, on a personal level, Popovich coached the Spurs to a Game 3 victory at home on the same night that was the one-year anniversary of the death of his wife, Erin, after a lengthy illness.
It was ultimately San Antonio’s failure to hold the two 19-point leads it built in Game 2, rather than the chaotic scenes of Game 7 crunchtime, that cost the Spurs their shot at a second-round date with the star of the playoffs so far: Portland’s Damian Lillard. But after the final game, Popovich chose to laud the Nuggets for their breakthrough instead of lamenting the lost opportunity.
“I’m really happy for them in a strange sort of way,” Popovich said.
The Spurs can likewise take solace in the knowledge that, as long as they still employ the shrewd Buford, Popovich can count on a roster to entice him to keep going.
I wrote earlier this season about how the struggles of Manchester United in the English Premier League to replace the iconic Sir Alex Ferguson had to be daunting for Spurs officials and fans as they are increasingly forced to imagine who could successfully succeed Popovich. United is on its fifth managerial successor to Ferguson in six years, and England’s 20-time champions still are not sure they have it right.
But the difference between rudderless United and ever-steady San Antonio is the scouting eye of Buford, who found Parker (No. 28) and Ginobili (No. 57) with ridiculously late draft picks and who may have done it again with his two No. 29s: Murray and Derrick White.
White had a dreadful series after his 36-point masterpiece in Game 3, but this essentially was his rookie season. The Spurs look like they have something with the trio of Murray, White and Bryn Forbes — along with two more first-round picks coming in June — and the team could have salary-cap space to spend in the summer of 2020 if it decides to move on from Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan.
Yet there is only one Pop — as Denver Coach Mike Malone repeatedly said these past two weeks. The series started with Malone’s joking about trying to live up to Pop’s five championship rings with just his “wedding ring.” It ended with the 54-win Nuggets finding a way to survive Playoff School — barely — but not before Malone likened Popovich to Bobby Fischer, the famed chess champion.
“Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don’t,” Popovich said after Game 6 when pressed on strategy. “But I’m probably not going to discuss the plan with you, with all due respect. I’m not sure why I should do that.”
The same clearly applies to his future. This is Gregg Charles Popovich, and whether you like the manner in which he answers reporters’ questions or not, he’ll tell us when he’s ready.B:
【他】【拼】【命】【地】【想】【要】【让】【宋】【北】【音】【忘】【记】【他】【刚】【才】【说】【过】【的】【话】。 【但】【是】【这】【时】【宋】【北】【音】【却】【很】【淡】【定】【地】【打】【断】【了】【他】【的】【话】，“【好】【了】，【你】【不】【用】【解】【释】【了】。” 【啊】？ 【不】【用】【解】【释】【了】？【这】【岂】【不】【是】【直】【接】【就】【判】【小】【城】【城】【死】【刑】【了】？ 【完】【了】【完】【了】，【我】【这】【次】【是】【要】【把】【小】【城】【城】【给】【害】【死】【了】，【邓】【以】【谨】【又】【愧】【疚】【又】【怕】，【他】【只】【想】【再】【挣】【扎】【一】【下】，“【小】【音】【音】，【你】【真】【的】【要】【听】【我】【解】【释】，【小】【城】【城】【真】
“【哥】，【你】【啥】【意】【思】【啊】？【鬼】【仙】【仙】【的】？”【小】【月】【儿】【怯】【怯】【的】【问】。 “【哥】【的】【意】【思】【很】【简】【单】，【以】【后】【千】【万】【别】【在】【陌】【生】【人】【面】【前】【显】【示】【的】【你】【的】【不】【为】【人】【知】【的】【本】【事】，【世】【上】【坏】【人】【不】【少】，【知】【道】【吗】？”【说】【完】，【又】【敲】【了】【小】【月】【儿】【一】【记】【脑】【瓜】【崩】。 “【可】【别】【瞎】【说】，【还】【惦】【记】【我】，【惦】【记】【惦】【记】【你】【的】【乱】【桃】【花】【吧】，【与】【其】【扬】【汤】【止】【沸】，【不】【如】【釜】【底】【抽】【薪】。”【小】【月】【儿】【小】【声】【的】【嘀】【咕】。 “【你】
【而】【嗅】【到】【空】【中】【突】【然】【浓】【烈】【起】【来】【的】【紧】【张】【和】【不】【安】【的】【气】【味】【时】【也】【没】【有】【上】【前】【只】【顺】【这】【他】【的】【话】【往】【下】【走】。【抛】【除】【了】【刚】【开】【始】【的】【尴】【尬】【和】【不】【好】【意】【思】，【他】【也】【没】【显】【的】【那】【么】【局】【促】，【暗】【红】【的】【眼】【睛】【映】【这】【笑】【意】【像】【团】【团】【燃】【烧】【的】【烈】【焰】【样】【明】【亮】，【因】【笑】【起】【来】【就】【变】【的】【愈】【发】【明】【显】【的】【梨】【窝】【在】【俊】【俏】【的】【脸】【上】【显】【的】【十】【分】【的】【可】【爱】。 · “【哥】【哥】，【我】【好】【饿】！【我】【们】【快】【些】【走】【好】【吗】？” 【小】【孩】【总】12历史图库208图库“【放】【下】？【孙】【宁】【宇】【你】【确】【定】【将】【他】【放】【下】【了】【吗】？【你】【是】【不】【是】【忘】【记】【了】【那】【天】【酒】【会】【你】【晕】【倒】【的】【事】【情】【了】？【那】【天】【你】【抱】【着】【我】【喊】【别】【的】【男】【人】【时】，【那】【是】【忘】【记】【时】【该】【有】【的】【反】【应】？【你】【说】【你】【最】【爱】【的】【男】【人】【是】【他】，【可】【你】【有】【想】【过】【我】【的】【感】【受】【吗】？” “【我】【只】【是】【你】【利】【用】【的】【一】【枚】【棋】【子】，【你】【怎】【么】【会】【考】【虑】【过】【我】【呢】？【事】【到】【如】【此】，【你】【竟】【然】【还】【想】【要】【狡】【辩】，【你】【是】【不】【是】【觉】【得】【我】【爱】【你】【所】【以】【你】【就】【有】【恃】
【炼】【焰】【阁】，【大】【铖】【山】。 【如】【今】【的】【大】【铖】【山】【再】【次】【恢】【复】【了】【平】【静】，【原】【本】【升】【腾】【高】【涨】【的】【炼】【心】【焰】【已】【经】【变】【得】【平】【和】【下】【来】，【仿】【佛】【清】【泉】【一】【样】【在】【大】【铖】【山】【上】【流】【淌】，【滋】【润】【万】【物】，【滋】【润】【生】【灵】。 【囚】【牛】【君】【主】【早】【已】【带】【着】【新】【炼】【制】【的】【两】【柄】**【离】【开】【了】，【那】【两】【柄】**，【皆】【是】【以】【磁】【暴】【星】【为】【主】【炼】【制】【而】【成】，【蕴】【含】【着】【恐】【怖】【的】【磁】【暴】【力】【量】。 【斧】【成】【双】【刃】，【漆】【黑】【战】【柄】，【看】【起】【来】【便】【是】【威】
“【背】【后】【的】【伤】【也】【还】【好】，【等】【下】【会】【一】【起】【给】【治】【疗】【了】。” 【轩】【辕】【平】【微】【微】【颔】【首】，【又】【将】【上】【衣】【拉】【了】【拉】【穿】【好】【了】。 【他】【一】【个】***，【光】【着】【背】，【对】【着】【两】【名】【女】【子】，【礼】【仪】【上】，【还】【真】【是】【挺】【难】【接】【受】。 【林】【静】【将】【包】【在】【他】【左】【臂】【断】【口】【处】【的】【棉】【布】【都】【给】【解】【了】【下】【来】，【看】【了】【看】【已】【经】【有】【些】【化】【脓】【的】【断】【口】【处】，【心】【中】【叹】【了】【口】【气】。 【他】【的】【这】【个】【伤】【口】，【如】【果】【想】【重】【新】【给】【接】【上】，【就】【要】
【已】【知】【宇】【宙】【的】【浩】【瀚】【绝】【对】【超】【乎】【人】【们】【的】【想】【象】，【而】【且】【存】【在】【了】【不】【知】【数】【以】【万】【计】【的】【文】【明】，【而】【恶】【魔】【文】【明】【绝】【对】【处】【于】【顶】【尖】【之】【列】，【只】【因】【为】【他】【们】【强】【大】【的】【女】【王】-【莫】【甘】【娜】。 【可】【是】【此】【时】【的】【莫】【甘】【娜】【却】【有】【着】【不】【曾】【有】【过】【的】【烦】【恼】。 【坤】【萨】【星】【云】【的】【恶】【魔】【双】【翼】【战】【舰】【之】【内】，【莫】【甘】【娜】【看】【着】【即】【将】【成】【功】【的】【蔷】【薇】，【内】【心】【充】【满】【了】【犹】【豫】【不】【决】【的】【矛】【盾】【的】【情】【绪】。 【这】【让】【她】【有】【些】【不】【知】【所】