Boris Diaw will start Game 2

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There will be no game time decision on this one. According to Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, Boris Diaw will again start alongside Tim Duncan when the Spurs face the Jazz in Game 2 of their first round series.

Coach Pop told the media following practice on Monday that Diaw will again gets the nod.

“He’s our starter,” Coach Pop said. “We started he and Timmy together down the stretch in the regular season, and so we’re not going to change it much.”

Regarding Tiago Splitter, Pop said that Splitter is doubtful for Game 2 following a sprained left wrist the Spurs big man suffered in the first half of Sunday’s Game 1 (Update: According to the Express-News, it’s a bone bruise).

“They’ve got him in some sort of a cast right now,” Popovich said. “I think it’s something we won’t be able to tell, honestly, until Wednesday.”

What that means, folks, is that we’re going to be seeing significant minutes for the DeJuan Blair-Matt Bonner big man combo off the bench.

The pair played together some in the second half of Game 1, a little over seven minutes total, and the results were fairly in line with what we’ve seen previously from the two. It’s a very, very small sample size, but the Spurs had a 91.9 OffRtg (points scored per 100 possessions) when the two were in the game together according to NBA.com’s stats, and gave up a 103.6 DefRtg.

Although, it could be worse, the usually solid pairing of Bonner and Tiago Splitter gave up a 121.5 DefRtg in its seven minutes together in Game 1.

For reference, the starting combination of Duncan and Diaw played 26 minutes together in Game 1 and posted an OffRtg of 105 and a DefRtg of 89.7, giving the Spurs a NetRtg of +15.3 points per 100 possessions when those two were on the floor together. That’s really good.

The primary concern with playing Bonner and Blair together is rebounding, especially against a team as good on the boards as Utah. In Game 1, the Spurs grabbed just 54.5% of available defensive rebounds when Bonner and Blair were on the floor together.

Many signs may point to the Bonner-Blair tandem as a weakness for the Spurs heading into Game 2. However, Tim Duncan only played 31 minutes in Game 1. With essentially three days of rest since Game 1, and another another three days heading into Game 3, Popovich could increase Duncan’s minutes in an effort to limit the amount of time Bonner and Blair see the floor together. Doing that would both play to the Spurs’ strengths and hide the team’s weaknesses.

  • Jimbo

    Very worrisome injury to Splitter. I hope he’s back soon. Duncan is all by his lonesome against a big frontcourt.

  • Hobson13

    We only played Splitter for 7 minutes in game 1 and the Spurs cruised. I say sit Splitter for game 2 so that he can play on Saturday in game 3. I have a hunch game 2 will be tighter than 1, but that the Spurs will still take a 2-0 lead into Utah. Game 3 will probably be the toughest game to win in the entire series. That’s when we’ll need a rested big body.

  • Tyler Remmert

    This is why having Kawhi Leonard in the lineup along with Bonner/Blair will be pretty important. He’s a starter and should be playing with the starters, but his rebounding skill makes him extremely valuable to a small ball, easily bullied lineup like Bonner/Blair. Kawhi could offset, to at least a small degree, the defensive rebounding flaws exposed in the Bonner/Blair lineup.

  • Titletown99030507d

    All they have to do is run like hell and make their shots and play perimeter defense. Don’t let that Hayward get off. Blair thrives in these kind of small ball run and gun games especially if Manu is on the court with him. It will be close not because Splitter isn’t playing because they know they can play with us, they experience some success on the defensive side in game 1 at one point of the game. If they steal this one it good get really interesting in Utah.

  • mk

    If his wrist is at all compromised, I would say don’t play him in this series until we lose a game.

  • theghostofjh

    I don’t agree with Pop on this. It confirms Pop’s lack of trust in Blair, and further erodes his confidence. It also puts into effect poorer match-ups: Diaw/Bonner would be better on Favors/Kanter, and Blair is better on Milsap. In addition, it may force us to play TD too much unnecessarily, and that’s something you never want to do early in the playoffs.

    Jackson will be key in that 2nd unit. He’ll have to rebound & defend at the top of his game.

    Despite Pop’s decision, I still like our chances in game two at home. However, if we don’t shoot particularly well, I think this decision could contribute to making this game closer than I’d prefer.

  • eddie

    Spurs should play much better on Wednesday and win the game easy.

  • Eduardo

    Congrats to Coash Pop for getting coach of the year honors. Last time he got it we won a title.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Titletown—- both Hayward & Favors need to be curtailed.
    @ theghostofjh—-rotation of 10+ guys at home, at least 2 guys SHOULD BE HOT to make up for the lack of a big (Splitter) in this game.
    @ Eduardo—-with Rose being out 40% of the season due to injury, but the Bulls still being tied with the Spurs for best season record—the award should have being shared by Coach Thibodeau & Pop.
    @ theghostofjh—-Blair’s game has stagnated in 2-3 crucial aspects. Unless the Spurs get title no. 5, this is DeJuan’s last season in the Silver & Black.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @DorieStreet

    I’m really more concerned about Hayward only because our perimeter defense tends to get lax out there on the court and this dude will make his shots if there’s no one in his face. He is the wild card for the Jazz.

    In regards to what could be Blair’s last season with the silver and black I am also concerned about Splitter only because of the injuries. I hope they don’t trade him I’ve been following his game since he got drafted and was glad to see him get here finally but you have to remember he’s been playing pro ball for 11 seasons now since he was 16. I hope the wear and tear hasn’t caught up to him. He needs to bulk up for next season. He improved his FG% now maybe he can bulk up and be more of force down low next season.

  • DorieStreet

    This is where the roster acumen of RC (and Pop) comes up big: can’t come up with a standard size 4/5 ($$$$), so get a somewhat accomplished though unconventional big in Boris Diaw as a better option (in league experience and skill set) to Dejuan Blair.

  • theghostofjh

    @DorieStreet

    “Unless the Spurs get title no. 5, this is DeJuan’s last season in the Silver & Black.”

    Let’s hope so, for Blair’s sake. Starting 80% of the games with 20+ mpg. over the last two seasons, helping the team compile virtually the best win % in the NBA (a fraction behind Chicago, but in a more difficult conference), yet finding himself for two straight years relegated to obscurity once the games get “really” important, is too much to take for any player of Blair’s caliber.

    Unfortunately for DeJuan, the Spurs will likely continue to use him and his puny salary during the regular season next year (giving important rest to TD, Splitter, etc.), and then unload him at the trade deadline, IF they feel they can get something worthwhile in exchange (otherwise they’ll keep him as insurance until he becomes a free agent at seasons’ end).

    And DJB is too smart, and has too much class to demand a trade. So in my view he’s likely stuck for another year in the Silver & Black (unless the Spurs can miraculously pull off another GHILL/KL type deal). At least he’s happy that the team he’s on will likely continue to win a lot of games!

  • theghostofjh

    ” ….. so get a somewhat accomplished though unconventional big in Boris Diaw as a better option (in league experience and skill set) to Dejuan Blair.”

    Sure, but this is partially good fortune, and Diaw is likely just a rented player for the last part of this season. Excellent short-term move, but next year and beyond is still a big question (unless one wants to use our full MLE on him, and he accepts).

    Diaw increases our depth on the front line, and I’m glad that we have him to help with a title push THIS year. However, I personally think he should have been paired more with Splitter, taking a good portion of Bonner’s minutes, and leaving Blair as the starter with Duncan. And then, whoever plays the best earns the most minutes.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Titletown:
    I agree with you on Hayward, but Favors, in his mid-range zone, has been getting open and soft-defense looks–and knocking down his shots too. I consider them equally dangerous in this series.
    With regards to Splitter– he is just the latest case (of those Euros who have come over) in how the Spurs have mismananged their pipeline. All of the really good foreign players get into the pro system at 16 y.o. Whatever year the FO drafts them, they should bring them over ASAP. They did it with Tony; they waited 3 years with Manu/5 with Scola/ 2 with Mahinmi.
    Javtokas, Karaulov, Sanikidze, de Colo, Richards, Bertans, Lorbek, Hanga—what prevents the franchise from even getting half of these players picked getting over here for to see how they fare in a summer league? (If they don’t work out, they can always go back home and play.)

  • DorieStreet

    @ theghostofjh:
    DJB eems to fit the Spurs scheme and culture both on and off the court. The Spurs were universally lauded on draft night for getting him in the 2nd round. But since his rookie year, it seems more fans are dissatisfied with his production/decisioning making/overall game than not.
    I profess not to be as in tune about the frontcourt pairings as other fans. But since the team will have to go through formidible front lines (again) in this postseason, I will pay more attention to what works and what doesn’t.

  • theghostofjh

    “But since his rookie year, it seems more fans are dissatisfied with his production/decisioning making/overall game than not.”

    Apparently, for some unknown reason, these “fans” have a difficult time understanding that Blair’s “role” changed “completely” between his rookie year, and years two & three. He was now asked to defer more to his star teammates (TP, Manu, TD). As a result, his “stats” ratios were bound to stagnate or even regress in certain key areas during year two & three (e.g., defensive rebound rate). It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure that out.

    Other than that, DJB has some handicaps that are not easy to surmount. He obviously never had super-star talent, so of course his progress is likely to be slower than what most would prefer. But the patience level of some fans is ridiculously short, and the expectations of others is entirely unrealistic. Let’s for a change appreciate what he does do well for the Spurs, and realize that he is still barely 23 years old. He still has time to develop, but on this team his opportunity/minutes are limited. Granted, he probably needs to work a good deal harder on his game in the off-season, but he will also need more opportunity during games, including playoff games, to optimize the speed of his development. It doesn’t look like he’ll get that with the Spurs, so for his sake, I hope he finds a better opportunity with a solid organization.

  • Easy B

    I disagree with all of the postings about Blair, however i do agree with some elements.
    Yes, he will never be a super star in the league, and he is only 23.
    Why should he be entitled to all these minutes ahead of more polished veterans who are outperforming?
    Blair has been a good contributor to the teams overall success. Let’s not confuse that with correlations about winning when he starts – the spurs have been running this system for years…look no further than the oberto’s, nesterovic and Malik rose’s to see the types of roles he is destined for on this team: hustle, rebounding, interior passing, pick and roll spacing and putting a body on your man.
    Blair’s contribution doesn’t need to become more complicated than that for now. Though a reduction in errors and adding new facets to his game in the offseason will likely determine what type of contract he might get offered at the conclusion of this one. A good example of working on expanding your role on the team is bonner. bonner has worked on the dribble drive somewhat, and has improved his rebounding a little to help justify enough time on the floor to make opponents pay. His one on one d doesn’t exist, but his help d has been effective and
    his rotations are usually timely.
    It was Bowen s offensive development that helped elevate the very good spurs starting five into almost unguardable when in rhythm.
    Blair still has time to add new wrinkles, and I can’t see why he would be unhappy knowing that with the minutes he has gotten the last few years, he will no doubt get a sizable chunk of millions from some team in the NBA

  • Vermont Spurs Fan

    You people sound like a bunch of nervous hens…
    Did last year do that much to your confidence?

    I mean this is still the Spurs. I full expect a win tonight and even if we were to somehow lose tonight we will certainly win the series.

    Whoever is on the court will do their best and that is all we can ask. The Jazz are a pretty classy team actually compared to others. I am glad to see them competing hard.

    And just be glad that you are not a Lakers fan and forced to root for what can only be described as criminals. The player they got from Houston is likely heading back to Texas and this time to jail. If both teams win and meet in the second round that OKC-Lakers series is an interesting one, thugs, thugs everywhere! On both squads!

    Go Spurs Go!

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Doriestreet

    I agree on getting those late 2nd round picks down here asap. If some pan out great. If not move on. Your right I can’t see the FO taking so long (that is if they are not under contract)to get that potential talent over here. Apparently DeColo is leaning towards in coming to the Spurs after this summer. He can play the point but also the 2 and if he really pans out he could take Manu’s position when he’s done. He’s got height and is a very good passer and facilitator a good shooter as well but his defense needs polishing.
    So now’s the time to see what he can bring and in regards to Ryan Richards he just signed a contract with the Georgian team in Europe only for the remainder of the season which is their playoffs then he will need to decide what’s next. So after summer Richards and DeColo will be availbale. At this point I don’t even know if Richards is on Pop’s radar anymore. I say get him to the Toros and summer league and be done with it to see what they have. For him it’s now or never.