After being down nine points in the fourth quarter, Coach of the Year, Gregg Popovich called a much-needed timeout, and like a general commanding his soldiers, he implored his team,
“Are we having fun yet? I need a little bit more dose of nasty. I’m seeing a little bit of…unconfident, a little hesitation. It’s not supposed to be easy. Every round gets tougher. Penetrate hard. Good passes. Shoot with confidence. I want some nasty!”
Never known for his informative sound bites, when the wise sage forgets that the lights and cameras are on him and you get a voyeuristic look inside the Spurs huddle, it’s filled with sound bites galore; enough to send every journalist to their laptops and every coach to their note pads on “What Pop Would Say To Motivate His Players.“
The message wasn't to play dirty or to put a bounty on the Thunder’s heads, much like the MMA match between the Pacers and Heat series.
What Pop meant was that during, ''the heat of the game, stuff comes up. So I talked to them about they've got to get a little bit uglier, get a little more nasty, play with more fiber and take it to these guys. Meaning you have to drive it, you have to shoot it.''
The Spurs responded by getting nasty and finished the quarter with 39 points, despite scoring only 16 points in the previous quarter. It was just the trick to motivate his players to take a 1-0 series lead against the Thunder.
The Spurs have now won 19 straight and haven’t lost since April 11th. While the talent of the Spurs and Thunder cannot be understated, neither can the role of a head coach. If the Spurs can keep taking on the persona of their hard-nosed coach, Pop will not let the Spurs become soft any time soon, just a bit more nasty.