When I take a look at the San Antonio Spurs big man situation I think about a bunch of clowns waltzing into a tiny car. You look at it and think there is no way they are all in there at the same time, but somehow it works.
For the first time since the '01-'02 season, the Silver and Black will have three bigs playing significant minutes every night in the playoffs. As of now the Spurs have 96 minutes a night to hand out to five different players. So how will Pop break figure out who will get the minutes? Let's take a guess in how he'll do that.
Tim Duncan- 34 MPG- Over the last three seasons the Spurs' captain has averaged just over 35 minutes a game and I think that will drop just a smidge this postseason. Timmy is coming off the career lows in minutes played and I think he was saved for the playoffs, but he'll also be the first one to take a seat in any game that isn't close so his numbers will drop just a little bit.
Matt Bonner- 23 MPG- I know some of you think I'm crazy to put down that Bonner will get the second highest amount of minutes for a big, but you have to look at how he fits into this Spurs offense and defense. Offensively, he's the only big that is able to spread the floor like he does which means no one will cut into his playing time. He's safe. On defense, while he may not be flashy or get a lot of blocks, Bonner is always in the right place at he right time and is a player with "corporate knowledge" and Pop just loves that. Matty is also someone they look to have on the court offensively in all their crunch time situations.
DeJuan Blair- 21 mpg- DeJuan's minutes per game would actually be higher if I didn't think that he would sit a game or two because he just didn't matchup well with another team's stable of bigs. He doesn't need the ball on offense, which is why he is able to play alongside Timmy, unlike a certain Brazilian. I think his minutes are going to be the most stable of the next three guys, but it will all depend on the matchup.
Tiago Splitter- 9 MPG- Tiago's inability to lineup on the court with Duncan is going to hurt him a lot for this playoff run. Especially when they have so many big guys that compliment "The Big Fundamental" on this roster. There will be nights when Tiago plays 25+ minutes but there will be far more nights when he is playing under 10. For all you Tiago fans out there, like Project Spurs' Trevor Zickgraf, he does too many of the same things Tim does on offense and when they're both in the game their tempo is really bogged down. In years, past that wouldn't be a problem, but with the new run and gun of the team they need to be able to score at will. His game just isn't ready to play big minutes in every playoff game just yet. Sorry Zickgraf, but at least you'll still have that special fathead you ordered of Splitter sitting on the ceiling above your bed.
Boris Diaw- 9 MPG- This is where it truly gets tricky. Since joining the team Diaw has averaged 19 minutes per game, but he also sat out of two games all together. Pop always does appreciate the veterans, but at the same time Diaw hasn't had as much time with this team as others have in the big man stable. I wouldn't be surprised to see him play nine minutes per game or nineteen minutes a game. It will all depend on the matchup.
At the end of the day, you can look at this Spurs team and be reassured that their bigs can play any style. They'll have lots of guys that can contribute and they all have some comfort in the Spurs system. It's the first time in a while that the bigs aren't a glaring weakness for these guys going into the playoffs.
There's a reason why clowns still do that overcrowded car gag, it's because it works.
Matt Bonner's stellar defense on display tonight so far. I definitely want him guarding Favors and Millsap for 25 minutes on Sunday...
@CraigThomas his defense is more like he puts his hands up and prays.... I just don't see Utah in particular have enough scoring punch in the front court to do anything. Jack was guarding Millsap and making him pretty ineffective. My only concern is rebounding and my favorite choice after Timmy (Tiago) is not known to be a great rebounder. We need Kawhi and Manu to average 7+ rebounds a game throughout this series.
@Spursforever69 Yeah, Kawhi has a knack for rebounding on both ends. My problem is if Bonner plays 25+ minutes as Humberto is suggesting, who is he going to play on defense? If you put Jack on Millsap like you said, and Bonner is on the floor that means he has to guard either Al Jefferson (I pray to god this doesn't happen) or Gordan Hayward. Both of those are pretty bad mismatches.
I am not sold on Bonner's better "defensive" numbers. First of all, he is always guarding the less of the two post guys with Duncan or Tiago taking the main scorer. That means Bonner isn't going to see a lot of action. Secondly, his rebounding deficiencies make him an extreme liability against good rebounding teams (which Utah is). Thirdly, Diaw can spread the floor just like Bonner can offensively AND is a much better passer/driver AND a much better defender. All of this combines to tell me that there is no logical reason to have Bonner on the floor for more than 15+ against the Jazz unless we have an injury.
Let's not get cocky here, guys. I think that the Spurs can win this series rather handily, but Memphis of last year and Utah of this year are built similarly. Although I'd give the chances of the Spurs losing this series at like 10%, the Spurs can't get cocky here, because if given the opportunity, Utah will take this series from us.
@spurs123 Yeah, I've been seeing chatter on ESPN and other Spurs websites with overzealous fans wanting to schedule the river parade already. That type of overconfidence will get us killed in these playoffs. We need to lay low and take care of business until the WCF at least.
First off humbie likes to stir the pot with sas fans. He is a fan but just feels splitter isn't all that. In other words his stats are average and still not what the sas need from a center. Plus he and trevor debate this all the time. I think we all can agree the sas still need a better center.
@JeffProjectSpurs Right we could also use a better SF let's say Kevin Durant? Point is, with the roster we have right now Tiago is our 2nd best big man on BOTH ends(I'd like to see arguments against that). There is no reason whatsoever Blair and Bonner should get more minutes than him. Also I didn't notice any negative effects Tiago had on our team when he started along side Timmy, If I remember correctly we won both games by 20+.....
I love going to so called "major" Sports sites, and seeing some fools actually think the Spurs will lose out in first round. Alot of them think this is the same team from last year
@DavidSalazar Yeah. Most of the ESPN talking heads were saying such things a few weeks ago. I just think they hadn't really been paying attention. They will be the first to tell you that regular season doesn't matter come the playoffs, but they will point to previous postseasons as an indicator for this postseason? Crazy. But their tunes have changed. Checkout the East-West Predictions video on ESPN. Since the Lakers' games, they've started paying attention.
Blair and Bonner have had a history of disappearing in the playoffs. . . Blair is, in general, not good in matchups against teams with two legit bigs. I can see him getting PT against the Jazz, But against the Clips/Grizzlies in the second, I think he might be outmatched. Additionally, as bad as Blair's rebounding has been this season compared to previous seasons, I just don't see him as a playoffs player. I see him only getting 4-minute stints and if he starts he'll be the first player subbed out.
@onewingz Blair does to teams what Bynum did to us a couple of weeks ago - takes advantage of a lack of execution and hustle to completely dominate. Playoffs roll around, and the teams left are going to be executing, hustling, and taking care of the little things like boxing out. Blair has limited usefulness. Plus he makes a lot of mistakes, bad passes, wild shots, 3 seconds, etc. Bonner started declining as the playoffs approached last year. I haven't seen that from him this year. His shooting percentage is down a little bit, and he's not getting as many shots, because guys are running him off the 3 point line, but that isn't as much of a liability this year as in the past. He's making good decisions with the ball, his release is quicker, he's moving better. This is the best I've seen Bonner playing - which may not be saying a lot. But he does a lot of little things that make the team better, and Pop recognizes that. The thing that killed us last year was playing Bonner and Blair together for extended minutes. Ugh. Pop hasn't done that this year.
@Steve Tallent @onewingz Playing Blair in the playoffs is a mistake! I have no idea what you guys have seen in this guy the past few years. I have watched every single Spurs game for as long as I remember, Blair is our 5th best big man. He should be benched throughout the playoffs unless we're up 3-0 and up 30 points in the 4th quarter of game 4. I would much rather have Bonner play more minutes than Blair get any.
I don't usually go in like this, but since my name was invoked, what the hell. So let me get this straight, Tiago Splitter is the Spurs second best big guy and you want him buried on the bench and you want Matt Bonner, who averaged 21 mpg in the playoffs last season to get more minutes on a team that is deeper and more versatile? I also can't see Blair's minutes nearly doubling from the 12 mpg he played last season when again, this team is deeper and more versatile than last year's team. If anything, Blair and Bonner will each get around 15 mpg, same for Tiago, maybe a little more and the Spurs will play small ball with Kawhi, SJax and Duncan at the end of the game.
@yowhatupT I'm fine with your predicted end of game line up as long as Jackson gives the ball up to the guards. He seems really sloppy most of the time I have seen him trying to create.
I disagree with your minute distribution, I think anything Blair can do Diaw can do better on offense and outside of rebounding Diaw is a much better defender. i think He's intelligent enough to fill Blair's role without us missing any tempo.
I also disagree with the fact that you believe Pop will use a 5 big-men rotation in the playoffs, yes we are very deep but I think Big-men rotation will be 5 at max with Blair missing the cut.
As for Utah Jazz go I don't care whether they play Millsap 3 or 4, outside of Al Jefferson (He sort of reminds me of Z-Bo), there is no other match up I'm concerned with.
Yeah I disagree as well. What we've seen from the tail end of this season is dejuam is one dimensional as a great rebounder and if he's not rebounding then he has no upside. I see starting diaw or bonner with timmy and off the bench tiago with whoever doesn't start from bonner or diaw. Both have range, actually have size compared to blair, and have shown way more hustle and drive lately. What I'm most interested to see is how pop reacts to that funky lineup corbins been throwing out with jefferson and favors in the middle and millsap playing the 3. I like our versatility but I don't think kawhi or jack could last with millsap for too long. Could we see diaw or bonner play the 3 to try and couunter this? Interesting!!!
How does Matt Bonner fit into the Spurs defense? By getting out-rebounded, out-worked, and dunked on. If we play Bonner more than 20 mpg against the Jazz, expect this series to unnecessarily go to 6 games.
Timmy has to guard Jefferson and that leaves Millsap, Favors, Kanter and anyone else who is over 6'8" on the Jazz to run a train on Bonner. Pop has already said how much he likes Diaw's defense. Diaw essentially has the same range as Bonner does and a incredibly uncanny passing ability. I say play Bonner no more than 15+ and give those minutes to Diaw instead. His inside passing has done wonders for our offense.
The Grizzlies are definitely going to make it to the second round after the Clippers laid a complete egg last night. Sitting CP3 in a game that decides homecourt advantage for the 1st round? That was a terrible mistake by Del Negro unless CP3 is actually hurting. Either way, the Grizzlies are going to take it to the Clips.
We should seriously consider trading DJB before we have to give him another contract. He is noticeably fat and out of shape. He does nothing now but stupid runners in the lane that he probably learned from Tony. Right now his contract is a complete steal but in the future, we should move his fat ass for a serviceable big man who is not addicted to Whataburger.
@CraigThomas Last year I would have agreed with you. This year, not so much. For whatever reason we are better with Bonner on the floor. It looks like he may have gotten stronger in the off-season. He's moving better. Guys are only shooting like 29% against him in the post, which is just insane. And, what do you know, he's dunking, taking guys off the dribble and other amazing (for Bonner) stuff. He's majorly upgraded over last year.
@Steve Tallent I don't care too much about his post-defense. It is his terrible rebounding that annoys me. People literally just push him out of the way to get offensive rebounds. Bynum DESTROYED him and DJB on the boards. That 29% stat must be some odd abberration because there would be no way you or I would trust Bonner to D-up even an out of shape Zach Randolph much less huge Marc Gasol.
@CraigThomas @Steve Tallent Well, Marc Gasol is a center, and a large and very talented one at that. So no, I wouldn't expect him to D up on Gasol. I wouldn't expect Griffin or Love to D-up on Marc. And last year's Randolph - it didn't really matter who was on him, he bumped and pushed, and then couldn't miss with that fallaway. Injury aside, nobody has seen that guy this year. I do like Bonner next to Timmy because he rebounds better than Tiago, but Pop seems to prefer Bonner next to Tiago, with Manu on the floor. That team may have some defensive deficiencies, but they are REALLY good offensively.
@CraigThomas I think Timmy, Diaw, and Splitter will get the most PT against the Jazz. Blair will get more PT in the second round (if we make it) if we're playing the Clips. If we're playing the Griz, Blair will barely play. Bonner will probably get a decent amount of PT, but I have to admit that his defense has significantly improved over the past few years.
I think Diaw sat to rest. He's older, he wasn't in great shape coming in, and fatigue was more of a factor for him than some other guys. Pop was really careful with guys this year. Injuries are much more likely when guys are fatigued. I see Timmy's minutes slipping a little more than that, especially in the first round. As long as we have a lead, Tim will sit longer than normal. And I think some of the games are going to get out of hand in the late second or third quarter. We are just playing REALLY well right now. Utah thinks they think they can play with us. I'm pretty sure they can't. Not even close. They barely beat our B team, on their home court, on the second night of a back to back. And if our B team had a lot more practice together, not being able to rely on Tony and Tim and Manu, I think they could take this series in 6 or 7 games without the Big 3. It's that bad. Suns were injured, and didn't play Nash as much as they would have if it was a really meaningful game, but the guys that played, played really hard and well and it still wasn't enough. Without our top 4 scorers, playing all the way down to the bottom of the bench we posted 110 points. That amazing.
@Steve Tallent we are actually slightly below average offensively when Timmy plays but we have the 2nd best defensive rating when he's on the floor (I'm shocked no one has actually looked at this). I think he is very capable of giving us 40 mpg if we had to use him, he looks fresh. Against Utah our only concern is rebounding because they will hit the glass hard to get offensive rebounds we need our 3s and 2s to be really active helping out on the glass, unless they outrebound us by a bunch they will have no shot at winning a game.