Tiago Splitter told reporters after Saturday's win over Boston that coach Gregg Popovich told him after the team's loss to Portland that'd he'd be starting next Tim Duncan vs. the Celtics. Splitter played well, totaling 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in 28 minutes. It remains unclear if Splitter will start past Monday night's loss in Oklahoma City, but as Manu Ginobili as taught us, it doesn't matter if he starts, but how much playing time he gets. After the Celtics game, Tony Parker discussed Splitter's importance to the team and Tim Duncan in particular.
"Tiago has been playing well for us this year coming off the bench and playing with a lot of energy. It's going to be big for us because we can't play Timmy (Duncan) 40 minutes every game," Parker said. "We have to rest him for the playoffs, so if Tiago can give us quality minutes like that it's definitely going to be helpful."
After a shaky start, Splitter has been rolling the last ten games, averaging 12 points, six rebounds and just a shade under two assists per game in just 22 minutes of action.
He's also shooting 62 percent from the field over that span. While we'd all like to see Duncan and Splitter paired up more, Parker's right, Splitter also needs to be the big out there when Duncan is resting. Otherwise the Spurs become woefully small playing some combination of Boris Diaw, DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner.
While Serge Ibaka might prove a little too athletic for Splitter to guard, him being able to play next to Duncan for a Memphis, Lakers or Utah playoff match up is crucial.