Thibodeau understands Popovich's choice

DEERFIELD, Ill. – San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's decision to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home in advance of Thursday night's nationally televised showdown against the Miami Heat caught the eye of everyone around the NBA, including Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

"I think it's each individual case," Thibodeau said after Friday's practice. "There's two sides to it. I certainly understand where Pop's coming from. Pop's one of the all-time great coaches so I would never question what he's doing with his team. I think he understands his team, he understands the makeup of his team and he understands the age of his team. Those things are all critical. And then I think the commissioner's always charged with doing what he thinks is best for the league and so there's two sides to it. So hopefully in the end it will be resolved in a good way."

Thibodeau didn't too concerned about the issue, or the precedent that might be set if NBA commissioner David Stern does impose sanctions on the Spurs.

"It's not my issue," Thibodeau said. "But you always want what's best for the league."

Thibodeau tried to tap dance around what he thought, knowing that he would never be in Popovich's situation because he believes in playing his players heavy minutes if they are healthy.

"I have a hard enough time worrying about my own team," he said. "I think every team understands where they are. You have to do what's best for your team, but I also think you're part of the league too, so whatever. You've got to pace your team and you play the guys that you think you should play."

The last word: Thibodeau on if he has moved past last season's playoff loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

"It's in the past. You learn from every situation, you move on. They're our next opponent so we have to know them well. They're different in terms of some of their personnel but philosophically they're the same. Doug (Collins) is their coach and a great coach, he always gets his teams to play to their strengths and cover their weaknesses so you have to be ready."