THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — Like Gregg Popovich, Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows all about a rotten schedule.
But that’s about where the comparison ends.
Facing a fourth road game in five nights, Popovich sent Spurs stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio rather than face the defending champion Heat in Miami on Thursday night.
Miami, which had been off since Saturday, beat the undermanned Spurs 105-100.
NBA commissioner David Stern immediately promised "substantial sanctions" and followed through Friday by levying a US$250,000 fine on the San Antonio organization.
As Casey walked into a media room to meet Toronto reporters prior to Friday’s home game against the Phoenix Suns, he noticed Popovitch on a TV in the room.
Did they fine him, he asked? Not yet, he was told.
Does he have any sympathy for Popovich, he was asked.
"I have spent zero time worrying about coach Pop," he said with a smile. "He’s a big boy.
"We had a veteran team in Dallas. I understand there’s a lot of nights you just want to say ‘Hey, take the night off.’ We had a 38-, 37-, 36-year-old point guard, an older power forward. And there’s a lot of nights you want to say ‘Hey get them off. I understand that part of it."
You don’t have that luxury, someone offered.
"I wish I did. I wish I had a 38-year-old Hall of Fame point guard," he added. "But very few teams do."
In an NBA statement announcing the fine, Stern said: "I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans."
The Raptors played 10 of 17 games on the road in October and November and are about to head off for a five-game road swing.
Toronto was 3-13 heading into Friday’s game against the Suns.
Popovich said he decided to rest his core players because of the challenging schedule — and facing a tough home game with Memphis on Saturday.