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Old 04-20-12, 01:17 AM
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Spurs Nation: Spurs face sizable dilemma in Splitter!

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By Jeff McDonald from SA Express News

Spurs center Tiago Splitter wasn’t fazed earlier this week when coach Gregg Popovich informed him he’d be making his first start of the season against the Lakers at the Staples Center.

He was equally unfazed a night later in Sacramento, when he learned he was heading back to the bench, even though Tim Duncan was out.

If Popovich one day told him he’d be starting at point guard, Splitter would make believe he saw that coming, too.

“On this team,” the second-year big man said, “you have to be ready for anything.”

Popovich’s scavenger hunt for a secondary big man to complement Duncan began nearly a year ago, after Memphis’ Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol punished the undersized Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.

With another postseason at hand, a relative lack of size remains the biggest — and perhaps only — question mark for a Spurs team with the best record in the Western Conference.

For several games, Popovich has been tinkering with various big man rotations, toggling between the 6-foot-11 Splitter, an undersized DeJuan Blair, the sharpshooting Matt Bonner and 6-8 hybrid Boris Diaw as Duncan’s running mate.

“He’s still learning it himself, along with everybody else,” Duncan said. “We can change from team to team. We can change it mid-game. We can attack people in different ways.”

Tonight, as the Spurs face the Lakers and their frontline of gargantuans for the third time in nine days, Popovich will have another laboratory in which to conduct his size experiment.

The idea of a Twin Towers pairing of Splitter and Duncan has been a cause célèbre among Spurs fans, but one Popovich has been hesitant to embrace.

After watching 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol all but mug the Spurs’ frontline in a 98-84 Lakers victory April 11, Popovich at last relented in the rematch in Los Angeles, replacing his smallest big man with his tallest.

It marked Splitter’s first career start alongside Duncan. The 6-7 Blair, who has started a team-high 59 of 61 games, did not play at all.

“We wanted to match up with their big guys,” Splitter said.

The specific results of the change were mixed, though the outcome — a 112-91 win — was much better for the Spurs.

Plagued by early foul trouble, Splitter was no match for Bynum’s strength on the block.

What Splitter did well was help keep Bynum off the glass. After grabbing a career-best 30 rebounds in the first meeting — part of a 60-33 edge for L.A. — Bynum had just seven in the rematch.

“Tiago does what he does,” Popovich said. “He’s a hard worker. He does all that dirty work out there.”

Yet coupling Splitter with Duncan also comes with a downside.

The Spurs have been heavily reliant on their offense this season to win games, and that offense is based predominantly on the pick and roll. Duncan and Splitter are essentially both pick-and-roll big men, rendering one of them redundant when paired.

According to an NBA.com database, the little-used Duncan-Splitter combo rates as one of the Spurs’ worst offensive lineups. It is the reason the two had logged just 108 minutes together before Tuesday.

Therein lies Popovich’s dilemma. In order to address his team’s biggest perceived weakness — a lack of size in the frontcourt — the Spurs must subtract from their greatest strength.

Whether Popovich will give the Splitter-Duncan combination another crack against Bynum and Gasol tonight remains to be seen.

“I don’t know,” Splitter said. “You have to ask Pop.”

All Splitter can do is be prepared.

“You just have to take the opportunity you have,” Splitter said. “If you play four minutes or 40 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Winning is the only job.”
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Old 04-20-12, 02:07 AM
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amazing article. I like how pop is warming himself up to the idea. I think its the spurs only shot. I can see diaw being able to hold the fort for a bit...but splitter is going to be the x factor.
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Old 04-20-12, 06:07 AM
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My guess is that Diaw starts tonight and guards Gasol to start the game. This is a game to really try to figure out the best rotations against the Lakers in case we play them in the WCF.
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Old 04-20-12, 08:42 AM
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Bynum did what he wanted offensively against Splitter, but he did keep him from rebounding. You might as well start Diaw, and have Splitter play when he is most efficient. It shouldn't be that way, but Splitter is what he is.
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Old 04-20-12, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Uwe Blab View Post
Bynum did what he wanted offensively against Splitter, but he did keep him from rebounding. You might as well start Diaw, and have Splitter play when he is most efficient. It shouldn't be that way, but Splitter is what he is.
I think Pop might start Splitter again.....

I thought Tiago/TD combo did a better job defensively than offensively. The offensive rebounding was the bread and butter for the lakers win in the first game they played the Spurs. Tiago might have struggled at the beginning of the game but when he got benched in about few minutes he came back with strong revenge and played really hard.

However since Spurs need to be SUPER SUPER SHARP offensively I would suggest Pop needs to start DIAW tonight.

Pop needs to match the Lakers intensity on subbing for the bigs. The beginning starting line up will have A LOT to build the Spurs confidence and help them from going in a hole then having to climb up all game long.
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Old 04-20-12, 11:35 AM
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i wouldn't be surprised if Diaw starts tonight, i don't know if he goes with Splitter again. the Duncan/Splitter combo is bad offensively (esp vs. LA) because you're now depending on Splitter to back down Bynum, which is difficult to do for any center. Tiago doesn't have the skills to work facing the basket just yet. it's kind of the same situation as Blair, but Splitter's height + length makes Bynum uneasy about staying in the paint because Splitter can lay it up easily over Bynum than Blair could.

our young guys seem timid to drive with a clogged paint also. Tiago may work, but you might have to plug Manu/Jackson into the lineup for it to work.
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Old 04-20-12, 11:58 AM
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bonner or diaw starting is better to force bynum or gasol step away of the paint...
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Old 04-20-12, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuanCaca View Post
bonner or diaw starting is better to force bynum or gasol step away of the paint...
Exactly. Ill be surprised to see Aplitter sart off next to Timmay. Go spurs go. This game IMO I'd te spurs last litmus test of the regular season. Let's hope it ends well. Go spurs go an as always, IN POP WE TRUST
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Old 04-20-12, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by spurscrazed View Post
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“He’s still learning it himself, along with everybody else,” Duncan said. “We can change from team to team. We can change it mid-game. We can attack people in different ways.”
That right there is the biggest key! The Spurs ability to beat other teams from game to game. I beleive Splitter needs to start against the Fakers tonight. It shall be interesting to see what coach Pop decides.....
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Old 04-20-12, 02:49 PM
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lots is made of bynum rebound....but the fact to the game was that Parker was missing shots that he usally makes...and many of our guys were missing shots too.
Those combanations helped the lakers seem like they were alot better inside then us...
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Old 04-20-12, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrtristan2003 View Post
lots is made of bynum rebound....but the fact to the game was that Parker was missing shots that he usally makes...and many of our guys were missing shots too.
Those combanations helped the lakers seem like they were alot better inside then us...
Good point. The Spurs shot well below their average, giving the Lakers a lot of rebounding opportunities.
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