While watching Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol in game two catch lob passes in the paint like he was Godzilla I realized that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will probably be put in a position at some point this series where he would have to play Tiago Splitter more.
This series is a physical one. Two tough defensive minded teams going hard on every possession. Because of this, there will probably be a game where multiple bigs get into foul trouble whether it be early or late. These games will all most likely be close hard fought contests. The margin of error is very small.
If Matt Bonner isn't hitting shots does Popovich keep him in there to get swallowed up in the post and offensive glass by Gasol or Zach Randolph or will he step out of his comfort zone and make the obvious move of putting Splitter in there to negate that length? This is really the X-factor of the series and the series could swing on this move.
A situation like this has already transpired. In game one, the Spurs found themselves with two big men with five fouls a piece ( DeJuan Blair, Antonio McDyess) in the middle of the 4th quarter. Popovich decides to go with Duncan and Matt Bonner as his bigs. Bonner, up to that point only had a couple of clean looks at the basket and missed both of his 3 point attempts. The defense was playing him really tight and he isn't athletic enough to create his own shot. Defensively during this 4th quarter stretch, Bonner was out there while Marc Gasol got two key offensive rebounds (two of the three he had that day) one was a clutch put back right over the top of Bonner which helped the Grizzlies build up to a seven-point lead. He ultimately redeemed himself with two huge 3 pointers late to help push the Spurs to a two point lead.
You can't count on that happening again. Popovich gambled and pulled even on that decision. The better move is to put Splitter in the game to take away higher percentage shots, try to force them to shoot jump shots and for him to bang the glass. You don't want to be getting bullied around in the paint late in a close playoff game. You will almost always lose those games and the Spurs did.
Bonner is essentially useless when he's not making shots. He is a massive liability on defense and in the playoffs where most teams have good bigs, playing him instead of a good defensive big man could be the difference between winning and losing. Can Popovich afford to make another decision like he did late in game one where he went with Bonner, whom he's comfortable with, over the player who the matchup is calling for with Splitter and be on the bad end of a huge mismatch? I don't think so.
I don't think you can make two decisions like that in a series and expect to win it. This potential situation is quietly looming over this series and how Popovich handles it, will likely determine the outcome. Win or lose.
Man, i agree with you guys 100% the Spurs have this 6'11/7'0 guy on the bench that can play D and rebound why isn't he playing the match ups in this series are not in the Spurs favor they need size and defense out there.Matt Bonner doesn't really fit in this series and if Danny Green is supposed to be a good defensive player why isn't he playing Spurs need to go back to what they know having two bigs in the middle and controlling the paint. I know the days of David Robinson are over but even after him the Spurs have had decent bigs Nestrovic, Mohammed, Elson, Oberto all paired next to Duncan they got the job done so Tiago Splitter can do the same, all this shooting 3's is cool but you need bigs to win,to control the paint offensively and defensively so put Tiago in. Over the summer they need to go after Gregg Oden and any other decent big that's available bring Ryan Richards over as well need all the size they can get i hear Richards patterns his game after Lamar Odom Spurs could definitely use a player like that, does anyone know if there are any good wing defenders available this summer (Arron Afflao)
WOW! I just finished watching game three and this article was so RIGHT! It is like you knew what Pop was going to NOT do! You called it! Wish I was wrong, but maybe Pop will play Tiago. Why does he even allow Tiago to travel with the team if he is not going to play him. When will Pop learn. The playoffs are about match ups, and with Matt Bonner instead of Tiago playing we DO NOT MATCH UP. I am not am NBA coach, but even I know something that the great Coach Pop does not know. It sucks having watched 82+ games this year to have it come down to maybe falling to a weaker less talented team because of a match up problem. God Bless Coach Pop and Go Spurs Go!
yes !!!!!! im on spurstalk and have been preaching this since the damn first strain muscle of his was healed,(preseason) and pop just used excuse after excuse to bench him! he played novak/ green/ neal and benched our best low pot defender no disrespect to tim but he cant do everyhing and pop needs to wake up.
did u guys know the only reason tiago FINALLY decided to MOVE AWAY FROM HIS COUNTRY and play here was obviously not the MONEY RIGHT GUYS ?.. you do remember how much tiagos getting paid? nothing for a guy like him (talent/heart/mental,physical toughness). anyway he told pop and THE SPURS org. that he would come if he was going to play. how shitty is that of pop. thats why something has to be going on with either pop or R.C, sorry but ill take R.C as COACH!!! he would be better than pop in my opinion.
naturally i thought tiago was going to ask to leave (mid-season)and we'd be stuck with a 31 year old bonner as a starter , and of course pop would leave coaching as soon a duncans not there to pick up the slack of pop's red head fettish and worthless decisions.
sorry but hes not as smart as ppl make him out to be, i think hes a genius at getting respect from great players and learned the military conditioning process to a T however his rotations are shit and are making less sense as the years go on. if you guys ever go to a spurs game and see R.C and pop talking they dont look like theyre talking about vineyard's anymore...wait i take it back pop is man poor dude hes getting the alcoholic mask lol. hes turned his back on what got him rings in the first place DDDD
REMEMBER last year we didnt have the option? mahinmi s what we had as a wild card! BUT now we do!!! a young bad mofo on the bench waiting to play hard DEFENSE in the post INSTEAD we got that awkward mistake of a man called bonner ! lol aww thats mean ahh who cares. theres a reason he doesnt have a twitter account!! he knows he sucks and doesnt want one
sorry for the rant but we need to CHANT TIAGO!!!TIAGO !!!TIAGO!!!TIAGOO!!!TIAGO
ill take a short cut and just tell you straight out that pop isnt the one who wanted manu ginobili/tony parker/tiago splitter/alot of spurs fans dont question him, but its RC BUFORD and alot of the scouts who made what we have happend and actually pop has made it harder than it needs to be. all he has to do is "play his best players" as he would say (and lie) .
im just saying if you saw scola play even as a rookie in the nba he was damn good would you keep matt bonner over his ass? thats what pop did! he gave up kurt thomas when we could have at least got him back but hell no he wanted him some ore M.B!! im sorry but next game just put a memphis jersey on bonner, ive never EVER SEEN A SPUR GET AWAY W/BEING OUT OF PLACE ALL THE TIME and just putting his raptor arms straight up and acting like its good D what a freaking joke!
thats why you saw him hold manu out for 2 years and let him play over there, even when manu was already michael jordan big in argentina.SORRY FOR THE RANT GUYS BUT LIKE I SAID WE NEED TO CHANT TIAGO IF YOU ATTEND A GAME HELL YEAH IM YELLING