Why playing Tiago Splitter is such a big gamble

by

From the outset of the series, Spurs fan called on Gregg Popovich to give Tiago Splitter minutes. Pop took the conservative route and only inserted Splitter into the lineup when the Spurs appeared broken and on the brink of elimination. This came with mixed results and mixed reviews.

Graydon Gordian saw Splitter’s Game 4 appearance, his first of the series, as a worrisome sign of desperation:

When Popovich starts buckling to the pressure to make major rotation changes part way through a series, it isn’t an example of the flexibility Spurs fans have long sought-after. (A flexibility which actually exists in spades and the absence of which has far more to do with our own blind spots than any stubbornness we perceive in Popovich.) It’s a sign that he no longer believes the players who have carried the team to this point have the ability to win on their own. It’s an act of desperation. It’s a decision made with the hope that an unexpected player will have a meteoric moment, and instead of falling prey to a Darrell Arthur or a Goran Dragic, the Spurs will miraculously possess one of their own.

Splitter’s Game 4 appearance was remarkably good and bad. He gave the Spurs a lift in the first half, but he was also part of a group that fall apart in the third quarter. Throughout the season, Mark Haubner (The Painted Area) and I have exchanged notes on Splitter’s progress. Splitter is something of a hobby horse for both of us. Haubs was convinced — I share his sentiment — that the Spurs would need Splitter to advance in the postseason.

Haubs contended the Spurs needed Splitter’s size and defensive ability to match up against the league’s elite teams. No arguments from me. But after seeing Splitter play in Game 4, Haubs sent a note that simply read, “…so much for that Duncan-Splitter lineup – yikes! I was actually surprised Pop didn’t pull the plug on that one sooner than he did. Where have the corner 3s gone?”

But Pop stuck to his guns and Splitter once again saw court time in Game 5. Consequently, DeJuan Blair received his first DNP-CD of the season. Blair’s minutes had dwindled since Game 1 (22 minutes, 13, 10, 6, DNP-CD). And, as Andrew McNeill has demonstrated, Splitter certainly contributed to the Spurs’ amazing Game 5 victory.

Getting to the point: playing Splitter is an incredibly daring move by the typically conservative Popovich.

Some would say it is a move that Popovich should have made in January, and I’m inclined to think that’s true. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make with this post.

DeJuan Blair played in 81 games this season (missing one due to injury). Blair was a starter in 65 of those 81 games. He wasn’t a marginal contributor to the Spurs’ regular season success. Blair was a rotation staple.

On the other hand, Tiago Splitter did not see the court very often. He played in 60 games, but that number doesn’t really account for his many appearences at the end of blowouts. Filter out the garbage time and his minutes were far more modest. Splitter was at the end of the bench. Essentially, he was never a part of San Antonio’s rotation, save for a short stint of games when he substituted for an injured Tim Duncan. He averaged 12 minutes a game, but in terms of meaningful minutes, Splitter was a marginal contributor.

Let’s put this differently: Gregg Popovich paired Splitter with Tim Duncan for vital stretches of Game 4 and 5. Now have a look at San Antonio’s regular season team units.The two players almost never shared court time together. Ever. Think about that.

Popovich’s decision to play Duncan and Splitter together is not a matter of a small tweak to the rotation. It is, rather, a completely new wrinkle to the rotation. It’s a bold move. One that most coaches wouldn’t attempt with the season on the line.

Give Popovich credit. He’s a stubborn old man, but he’s not afraid to let everything ride on a big risk.

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  • TD BestEVER

    @ Rob and others asking about who was available that YEAR……….

    2007 NBA draft – http://www.nba.com/draft2007/board.html
    Players of Note:
    Pick 28 – Splitter
    Pick 31 – Carl Landry – http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3217/carl-landry
    Pick 33 – Marcus Williams – where is this guy at
    Pick 35 – Glenn “Big Baby” Davis – http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3200/glen-davis
    Pick 48 – Mark Gasol – Stats shouldn’t be needed for this guy
    Pick 56 – Ramon Sessions – http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/3231/ramon-sessions

    And there were a few others in there I could have picked…….The point here is simple…..

    Gasol is BETTER than TIAGO is now, and it’s not close………Who was better 3 years ago.I have no idea, but I do know that Gasol was ready to play YEAR 1……and Tiago needed a few moe years to get seasoning……..WE COULD HAVE WAITED on Tiago and still got him, the same way Houston got Scola…….After a few years of waiting who ever would have drafted him would have given up on him I’m positive……..

  • DorieStreet

    You ask “who was available at the time” –the point is –it was not Splitter. The Spurs had just won the 4th title; we were stopped short (or stopped ourselves) of BTB/3PEAT in 2006–so the response is –draft somebody who won’t play for your squad the next 3 SEASONS -wasting Duncan’s skills (2007 was his 10TH YEAR in the league). Where is the logic—–

  • DorieStreet

    AGAIN–he was drafted in June 2007–if he (or any other Euro /International pro) does not want to join an NBA team (the premier basketball league in the world) that is a past/current champion and competing to get more– I am not going to resort to profanity in my post –but you know what I want to type!

  • TD BestEVER

    Also the gamble isn’t playing Splitter………..

    The GAMBLE IS PLAYING BONNER extended minutes………How many time do we need to see him either pass up or just BRICK a WIDE OPEN 3 to understand the he isn’t giving us what he did in the regular season………Bonner gives up more that 6points/game to who ever he is guarding in this series……..And most times he gives up WAY MORE than the 6 points he is averaging……….So unless he can make some more 3’s to offset what he is directly giving up, I have no idea what he is doing out there……..His help D isn’t helping at all……..Memphis is still getting what every they want……..And his floor spacing on Offense isn’t helping……Spurs aren’t getting a ton of easy shots when he is out there…….Or I’m I just missing the layups his floor spacing is giving us…….Exactly- the guy is useless…….

    The question is what can we get out of those 20 minutes – Other than 6points/3rebounds from Bonner

    Well we could for starters give Splitter 5 extra minutes and then give Blair Splitter’s old minutes..
    Splitter 20 min
    Blair 15min
    Bonner – situational ONLY(when we NEED a 3, or his spacing on a set play)

    Blair/Splitter would both get what Bonner is giving us and then more……maybe not in points with Blair, but the 3 or so extra rebounds would help out a TON………that’s more shots for us, and less for them…..

    Also Novak in for RJ…….ALL RJ is doing if floating around shooting 3’s….Novak can do that, especially in limited minutes……..he doesn’t need much space at all…….

    Now these would be GREAT/BOLD moves by POP…….instead realizing that Splitter could be effective doing what he always does………And these moves would actually change the series on our favor…….we would get more productivity out of our offensive and defensive units………

  • DorieStreet

    Lakers won 3 in a row – 2002-02. Spurs dethroned them in 2003. LA obtained Malone & Payton the next season–dethroned SA. Spurs bounced back to being champions in 2005 & 2007 (should have gotten 2006 for 3peat). Celtics wake up from 20 year slumber and make megadeal; then Lakers get Odom & Gasol; meanwhile the Scola/Mahinmi draft & stash fizzles. Celtics get a title and compete for a 2nd; Lakers compete for 3 and get 2. Meanwhile, waiting for this Euro Bigman stash & dash to work the Spurs go from WCF team in 2008 to 1st & 2nd round exit squad the next 2 seasons–and tonight they are a HCA team fighting to get out of the 1st round–AGAIN

  • DorieStreet

    Whose window of opportunity/ what impact on the league /good decision–????????

  • DorieStreet

    Again—why are we drafting a player from another, INFERIOR, pro league if he needs convincing to come and play in the NBA for an NBA Championship team.
    Pau Gasol–drafted by Atlanta Hawks in 2001 draft (then traded–one of the few times in 25 years Hawks picked the right player 1st, but traded his rights away draft night).
    Came in that same year to Memphis and became Rookie of the Year the IMMEDIATE following season 2001-02

  • Bruno

    No one would give up a Center/PF like Splitter/Scola, only Spurs do it.

  • DorieStreet

    +100
    Coach Hollins is going to roll with what got the Grizz this far–and depend on the crowd to fuel the players—check; he will make adjustments and do in-game counter moves.
    Pop is going to have to micro-manage who is on the floor—don’t let Memphis get up by more than 8 points max—-but be conscious of the timeouts (let ESPN help you out in that regard–they’ll do a lot of commerical breakaways–but I digress)

    Pop can’t let Blair DNP again–he will lose him as a Spur and let all that time go to waste.
    Coach Popovich: give 100% Friday night/ Sunday /and the rest of 2011.
    Whenever it ends–if it’s too much for you–walk away then. But coach like the players played the last 2 minutes of the 4th & OT.

  • Mark B

    Well, a fairly good player can make more in the Euro League as a team’s no. 1 player than the typical bench player makes in the NBA. The top 3-4 stars on the average NBA team use up most of the salary cap, and if you’re not in that group, you make a lot less. It kind of depends on what your priorities are.

    Pau was obviously going to get star money, so he was easy for him to decide to come over. Splitter, it’s not so clear cut. He’s been a pro since he was 15. I think he understands its a business, and he’s going to do what’s best for his long term financial gain. It’s not dumb to do that. Playing in the best basketball league in the world is exciting, but you have to look after your own interests. I’m not sure how long the average career of an NBA player is, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot less than how long Tim has been playing.

  • Anonymous

    Talking about Tiago and Marc Gasol is totally irrelevant. Hindsight is a great thing (I’m sure the Hornets wish they didn’t trade Kobe right now) and now we know that at this very moment Marc Gasol is better but who’s to say that in 1/2 years time Tiago won’t be better. And on top of this, all this trash about Gasol playing from year 1 isn’t true. Drafted 2007 by Lakers, Traded rights on 1 February 2008. Started playing for Memphis in the 2008-09 campaign.

    Even if the Spurs did draft him who’s to say it would have worked out well, maybe he wouldn’t have fit in with the system or maybe he wouldn’t have enjoyed his basketball here. Just look at Randolph playing for years and not finding a home or Turkoglu. Who knows how he would have played for us???

    The Spurs FO has done a smashing job drafting where they’re drafting and in general other moves they made. Obviously they swung and missed on a lot of moves (Scola trade, Signing Bonner lol, Bogans & Mason season, trading Gervin for Greenwood, Leandro Barbosa) but in general most seasons they have put a team out that had a chance of winning a title but for some bad luck with injuries and recently with age.

    Can’t believe how spoiled our fan base is and they won’t recognise it. One of the only teams to win multiple titles in a ‘small’ market and a continued period of excellence (50+ win seasons). Every FO makes mistakes (Minnesota, Clippers anyone?) but some make a lot less than others.

  • Ar950

    My friend, I have sat here all season and red blog and comment after comment and seen Spurs transaction after transaction and everyone is always talking about the Spurs getting a new guard or small forward. THEY NEED 2 GOOD BIG MEN TO PLAY NEXT TO DUNCAN, like dallas always does for Dirk. Popovich’s coaching has been horrible for years, there is no reason Splitter is not ready to play now. It reminds me of the series he had Bowen on Dirk, with Mohamed and Nesto exiled to the bench(even if dirk scored 50 at least we would hsve had their rebounds.
    Duncan is too old to continue playing against 2 front court opponents alone. Manu is hurt and Tony is alone right now. Blair is decent and can contribute off the bench but Mcdyess is done. Even if they win this series, which I think they will they are not build to win it with all the athletic big men in the playoffs. Does anyone think they can beat the Lakers in a 7 game series? No way, they have them owned.

  • badger

    It’s not a gamble when the matchups against Memphis are so bad for Blair. Come on, Splitter was waaaaay more effective at both ends against Memphis than Blair, and he even gives Dice a run for his money in many areas.

  • badger

    Even Splitter being solely used as Duncan’s backup is a HUGE improvement to the team’s overall defensive effectiveness. Blair/Bonner is a JOKE against a team with decent bigs.

  • http://spursworld.wordpress.com Robby Lim

    Tim,
    I agree that it is a gamble, but it is a gamble worth trying. Tiago Splitter is a low risk-high reward type of guy.

    I wrote about why the Spurs should play him http://spursworld.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/why-should-tiago-play/ after the game one debacle.

    And also believed that he lend a big hand with the Spurs’ Game 5 victory.

  • DorieStreet

    I get so tired of some fans’ response “how spoiled our fan base is…” etc, etc. TD=BE makes a legitimate point about Marc Gasol. You counter “who’s to say in 1/2 years time Tiago won’t be better.” That’s opening season —2011-12. Splitter was drafted June 2007. You and others keep missing the point/big picture: we had a top 50-60 NBA Alltime player whom many consider the GOAT at his position (As much as I enjoyed/ admired his game, GOAT is debatable–I digress)
    but the franchise failed to recognize his top notch game was not going to continue through his last years in the league—he needed to be paired with the best available frontcourt player (international/american) asap –to continue the legitimate quest for more titltes.
    Spurs FO has done a very good job at the backcourt (9 & 20 of course) , but they drafted hometown Devon Brown & didn’t keep him/ drafted Leondro Barbosa & traded him/ drafted Beno Udrih and Pop didn’ t put him in the right position to succeed.

    And don’t cop out by comparing this franchise with decades long franchises who haven’t done jack/or had a ‘Haley’s Comet’ moment = Clippers, Timberwollves, /or franchises that have been dormant for decades= Bullets/Wizards, Bucks, Hawks, Sixers

  • Anonymous

    Firstly Tiago had a contract with his team and he had no option to come over any sooner with the size of his contract. If he had been able to come over sooner, he was lottery bound. That is why our FO is so great, we bring in high quality players with low draft picks due to different circumstances.

    Next Gasol went in the second round which means that nearly every team in the league passed on him at least once. There was many reasons he wasn’t drafted, I don’t know them but it would probably have been weight, lack of skill… who knows. But if your complaining about him why aren’t you complaining about them not drafting other second round players like Ellis or Granger or Boozer or Gilbert or Rashard Lewis… You know why you aren’t complaining because no body is perfect. No one can predict the future or how someone’s career would turn out (Do you think Portland would still draft Oden over Durant?).

    Another point, who else should I compare them, against big market teams?? Clippers had a legit player in Elton Brand and they couldn’t do jack. T’Wolves had Garnett (one of the best PFs of all time) and never once really challenged for a title because the FO did a poor job of surrounding him quality players. Let’s look no further than Dallas and Dirk, one of the best players of this era and the front office couldn’t do shit, to surround him with enough talent.

    Yea you can bring up Devon Brown and Barbosa and Udrih but what about players like Horry, Finley, Bowen, Oberto and Brent Barry heck even guys like Rasho and Nazr. All of whom helped us win championships but Oh no this wasn’t the FO’s good work, this was just luck haha come on just accept that our FO has done a great job over the last 10/11 years. Yeah they got lucky with Tim but they still done a great job of surrounding him with enough talent to win it all. Maybe over the last year or two they fell off slightly (RJ, Bonner contracts/Mason, Ratliff & Bogans) but they’re still doing a pretty good job getting players like Splitter, Hill and maybe players like Anderson or Butler or Blair or even Neal who we just aren’t sure what they can be yet.

    You underestimate how hard it is for small market teams, even successful ones, to bring in real talent. We just can’t compete in bringing in top tier talent because we aren’t at the top of any free agents destination list. You name me any viable players the Spurs FO could have gotten to help us win more championships.

  • TD BestEVER

    You are missing the entire point……. Which is simply….Our FO should not have drafted Splitter if they couldn’t get hm over sooner…….. And there is no way in hell he is or ever was a LOTTERY TALENT……..He doesn’t have the skills now to be in the lottery, how in the hell could he have had them 3 years ago………..

    If you want other players who could have made an impact sooner……..just look at my 2007 draft list above…… Most players there could have done great things for us and even set us up to not need players like Hill/Blair now, we could have gotten a decent SF and not had to go out and get RJ………..

    And yes the main reason we are talking about this is because we all see the end of TD’s career now………and Most of us see a lot left on the table that our FO failed to capitalize on………There were at least 2 championships we left out there and out FO has done nothing to get those titles back, or try and get another……..

    Our FO was looking to the FUTURE when TD still had PRIME YEARS LEFT in the tank……..There’s no excuse to pick that bad, that long, and then on top of all that be cheap and not even try for any Free Agents

  • SA_Ray

    I totally agree with the Bonner assessment. This is his third playoff stent with the Spurs and he continues to be non-productive. That experiment has failed, time to move on.
    I would rather see Blair and Splitter split those minutes. I know 48MOH loves him, but he has plain sucked this series.

    And RJ has to see less time on the court. Playing him 33 minutes a game is ridiculous when he is nothing more than a minute sponge. He is a black hole of production. I would rather the Spurs play small with Neal in or give Novac a freakin chance to play. It doesn’t have to be 20 minutes but maybe 10-15 just to see if he can do something, see if he can handle it.

    RJ simply doesn’t fit the team. Everyone can see it at this point. You don’t have to bench him but stop putting him out there in clutch situations.

  • Angel

    Gary Neal averaged 2.3 points per game in the Euroleague. Yeah, he was a real “star” in Europe……….

  • Angel

    Tiago Splitter was the 6th best player on Baskonia, not the best.

    Lior Eliyahu
    Stanko Barac
    Marcelo Huertas
    Mirza Teletovic
    Fernando San Emeterio

    Splitter is not as good as any of those players from Baskonia’s team last year.

  • Anonymous

    At the time of the draft Tiago Splitter was talked about as lottery bound talent but people didn’t want to wait for him to come over. Go read draft previews for 2006 & 2007.

    What the F*CK do you want them to do picking late 20s and second round. Seriously what the f*ck do you want them to do. We were paying three superstars and were living in the tax nearly every year so signing free agents was not easy. And as I stated above nobody wants to come and play in SA. It’s a small market and you can’t attract players especially when you don’t have the cap room to offer players more money.

    Anyway lets look at the players you said we could have drafted.
    Carl Landry – Undersized PF who was getting constantly scored on by the Lakers bigs just a few hours ago. Everyone would be complaining about him just like they are with Blair.
    Marcus Williams – Why?????????
    Glen Davis – Same problem with Landry but has a jumpshot and good positional/team defense. Might have been a better player but there was reasons he went 35 in the draft. Weight and character issues.
    Marc Gasol – Would have been a good pick but no one seen him being as good as he is. This is not the FO’s fault.
    Ramon Sessions – Don’t know why you put him in.

    Getting to the point maybe Davis and Gasol would help us get closer to a ring but I don’t think either would get us over the top. The Lakers and Celts would still be better teams. Quite frankly I feel that if Tiago was playing for as long as Gasol played for this season (32 mins) he would have around the same production (11 pts 7 rebs) probably better.

    Obviously every move our FO made wasn’t right but nobody’s moves ever are. Our FO put us in position to win nearly every year and spoiled fans like you for some reason can’t see it. Maybe in 5/6 years time you’ll look back on the great job the FO did on keeping this team competitive for titles.

    Dirk in Dallas, Garnett in ‘Sota, Carmelo in Denver, Gasol in Memphis, Iverson in Philly, Nash in PHX, D-Wade the last couple of years, Bosh in Toronto, Lebron in Cleveland… etc. all franchise/great modern day players who the FO did a poor job of surrounding them with talent. Some came close but the FO just didn’t do enough. Now you look at our team and we won 3 titles with the same core group because our FO surrounded them with players that complemented them.

    With the Lakers having Shaq & Kobe early 2000s and then Kobe & Pau and the Celts with their 3, I’d say our only other realistic chance at a title came in 2006 when we were maybe just that Manu foul from going to anothe finals. We also might have had a chance in 2007/08 year but then Manu got banged up and we were always gonna struggle against the Lakers with a hobbled Manu.

    Damn that’s a long post but sorry I had a lot to say

  • Rob

    “Damn that’s a long post but sorry I had a lot to say”

    Well said.

  • TD BestEVER

    Again it’s obvious who watches and understands basketball and who just watches The Spurs……… and you are the later…….

    Carl Landry just averaged 16/5 vs LA thru 6 games………..Now the rebounding is a little low, but for $3mil a season that’s DAMN GOOD PRODUCTION……. So he would have helped a lot over the last few years, Especially against a Suns team last year….

    Williams – we drafted him that’s why he is there……..but you SHOULD KNOW THAT if you look at the link

    Davis/Gasol – weight and attitude problems……Who cares they can ball and there aren’t many Manu, TP’s waiting to be plucked up anymore………other teams have taken on players with attitudes and turned them into good/great players……. But our FO is TOO SCARED and TOO CHEAP……….that’s why we haven’t picked up any game changing players in a while……… keep trying after the perfect citizen………

    And I can see what we have done, we got lucky with TD, Manu, TP…….and then we got scared too make a mistake and stop taking chances…… I mean we picked up Rodman for a while for Christs sakes……When the Big 3 started too age, we should have been looking at players that could provide IMMEDIATE HELP(see my list fof players)….Or players that could one day be considered franchise players……… We have done neither…….

    And of all the players you listed who don’t have a ring, TD is better than them all by far………So bringing them up is completely pointless

  • Rob

    Splitter (as a rookie) never played in the nba until this year, is playing per 36 minutes every bit as good or better as all the bigs you mentioned who have been in this league 4 years.

    His potential to becoming better than any of the players you mentioned is greater than what any of them are achieving now after 4 years in this league.

    It was worth the wait.

    “WE COULD HAVE WAITED on Tiago and still got him”

    If you are talking about waiting until later in the draft that year…that could be true. But without knowing the particulars…maybe the situation called for drafting him when they did.

  • Colin Rigney

    Gary Neal was a good “Euro” player as well.

  • Anonymous

    Firstly I was asking why you put him (Marcus Williams) on the list. Didn’t see the point.

    Don’t make me laugh about only watching the Spurs. I’ve watched a good portion of every series and I keep a good eye on other teams during the regular season.
    And to point out to you if you watched the LAL-NO series you’d know that Paul was practically force feeding him and if he was to come to the Spurs he would have been a 4th or 5th option at best. Don’t get me wrong I think he’s a solid player but he was never gonna get us any closer to a title.

    Anyway, this whole argument is basically pointless. Hindsight is a great thing. Obviously now you can look at it and make a decision but at the time I’m sure you weren’t saying we should have drafted Gasol or Landry or Davis instead of Splitter. In hindsight I would have liked to have drafted Rashard Lewis in the 2nd round in ’98, or Boozer in ’02, or even Monta Ellis in ’05 but at the time there was a reason that these guys slipped so low, no one expected them to become the players they are.

    And finally yea I agree that Tim is a better player than all mentioned above but if you replace Tim with Garnett the Spurs would still probably win titles. Despite how great Tim has been (I think the GOAT) he was blessed to be able to play with guys like Robinson, Elliott, Manu, Parker, Horry, Bowen… etc. I’m sure Garnett would have killed to have guys like that around his team. The best he had was Gugliotta, Cassell, Spreewell, Marbury… etc. Their FO made bad decisions (Foye for Roy). This brings us right back to the argument about our FO. I think the Spurs FO is arguably the greatest of all time and that it’s unfair to say that we left championships on the table. In 2006 I feel we were better than Dallas, then Manu fouled and we know where that went. We had a great chance at winning it all that year and then in 2008 if Manu wasn’t hobbled this team challenges the Lakers a lot better than they did.

    FS I’m writing essays here, sorry

  • Mark B

    Well, if someone could have predicted how much Gasol would improve, sure, but three years ago he was a fat slug whose best qualification was an NBA star brother. Lots of NBA players have brothers who can’t play. Who did Sean Elliott’s brother play for? Even with Marc’s improved play, I’d rather have Splitter, he’s more athletic and has more skills. Marc Gasol is just a big body with a decent shot. If he wasnt’ playing with a more athletic big man to cover up his lack of mobility, he’d look a lot worse on defense.

  • Mark B

    As Angel said below, Neal wasn’t that big of a deal in Europe. He’s found a good fit in the Spurs, who have a place for a pure shooter with a quick release, even if he’s not great on defense. And his defense is improving.

  • Mark B

    I’m only familiar with European players who come over to the NBA, so I’ll take your word for it. If you’re right, some NBA teams are missing a bet by not recruiting some of those guys. Maybe they’re staying put for economic reasons.

    It may also be positional. There is a talent glut in the NBA for mid sized guys. Talented big guys are rare.

  • Mike

    How useful a crystal ball would have been a month ago then…

  • Mike

    Neal is too small, and if Novak is Bonner v0.5.

  • Mike

    I can’t believe how many people here are bad mouthing Bonner and yet talking up Novak to play the 3 spot. I mean if we really want to lost the game we could just bench Timmy, Manu, and Tony. And quit frankly, Blair can’t guard Gasol, Randolph, or probably Arthur. He’s too short against this crew.

  • Mike

    So you bench the best 3 point shooter on your team based on an assumption that the drive, kick half court offense won’t work. Might as well have benched Parker too since he’s not getting into the lane like he was during the season. /sarcasm

  • Ed

    Splitter was long overdue and paid immediate dividends. Face it, Blair is a regular season champion. He simply canNOT play with quality bigs who are long. He insists on forcing up offensive rebounds and predictably getting them blocked and he continually cheats on defense and gets embarassed (I would think) watching the other teams bigs just turning and shooting over him like he’s their little brother back home in the driveway. It’s probably too little too late though. This team has shown too many large holes that were glossed over during the regular season. They are paper lions. Parker has been invisible. Jefferson has been more invisible. When was the last time Timmy played a good game? Not a good quarter or good half but an entire good game? It’s time for Timmy to step back….retire or at least come off the bench next year. He’s a shadow now. If I never see Blair, Jefferson and Bonner in a Spurs uni again I’ll be just fine with it. Those 3 disappear when you need them most. Blair for the obvious physical reasons (he’s just too short, another Malik Rose), Bonner and Jefferson have no excuse other than they just can’t mentally handle big games. Adios I say. These playoffs have been the most sickening thing I’ve ever had to watch as a 30+ year Spurs fan so I say get on with the rebuilding effort. I’d rather watch my Spurs build another championship team than have to watch this crew bumble away another playoff series after another meaningles 50+ win regular season. Pop deserves Coach of the Year for what he got out of this crew but he doesn’t deserve another ring. Rings are for real contenders.

  • Dsdmunds

    Not only are you a total homer, which is fine, I expect that, so is Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue. Local fan Bloggers are supposed to be homers, but your answers on ESPNs 5 on 5 are totally worthless. At least answer the question instead of beating around the bush stating a bunch obvious, inconclusive statements.

    when asked who OKC would prefer to play you listed a bunch of logical, reasonable reasons why they would prefer the spurs but then totally put on the silver and black goggles and went with this bogus statement….

    “But San Antonio’s playoff experience, home-court advantage and seemingly endless ability to grind out improbable wins present problems the Thunder would do well to avoid.”

    they ground out 1 improbable game in 5 against the grizz, so please explain where the logic in this statement is founded

  • TD BestEVER

    Problem is Bonner can’t guard them either……….So what’s more important…..Bonner 1-2 Three pointers a game……….. Or Blair 7rebounds…………give me the boards…….Less shots for them and more shots for us…………

  • TD BestEVER

    “Even with Marc’s improved play, I’d rather have Splitter, he’s more athletic and has more skills.”

    What game have you been watching………..lol…..Gasol has a good Post game and is as good a passer as TD………..Splitter doesn’t have those or a jump shot……..how is he more Talented……..

  • Dsdmunds

    to clarify my confusion…

    first of all, your own player admitted you were lucky not to lose 2 out of 3 home games so far this series, so I dont see where the home court has proven to be magical.

    secondly, you say “endless ability to grind out improbable wins”. Really? endless ability? In reality the Spurs have managed to grind out only 1 improbable victory this series and it is the grizzlies who have out-ground the Spurs thus far.

    both statements are very unpersuasive especially for any reader who has watched this series, so I am wondering how this statement makes any sense….

    “Oklahoma City’s obvious advantage in youth and athleticism would serve them well against San Antonio, and the Spurs don’t have an obvious defensive stopper for Kevin Durant. But San Antonio’s playoff experience, home-court advantage and seemingly endless ability to grind out improbable wins present problems the Thunder would do well to avoid.”

  • Dr. Who

    It’s not an anomaly when a player crumbles in the playoffs year after year after leading or being among the league leaders in 3’s. Bonner could very well cost Pop his job if he keeps with the Rocket year after year. I like Bonner, it’s great to cheer for the unathletic white guy with t-Rex arms; but when he lays egg after egg in the playoffs… It’s time to cut the chord. He could thrive elsewhere but nit on this team that is already not strong defensively and slow. We needed a 3 to go to OT and save the season for another day. Where was Bonner? With RJ on the bench and undrafted rookie Neal took the last shot on a play that was probably drawn up fr Ginobilli. That’s all u need to know about playoff Bonner.

  • Lvmainman

    I agree with you Ed.

    Here’s my offseason wish list. http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=3nllxsa

    Spurs sign free agent Grant Hill to start in Jefferson’s spot. We get rid of Parker, Bonner, Blair, & Jefferson. None of the 5 big men on the team are shorter than 6’11.

  • Mrivera2075

    I echo most of the posts on here that Pop needed to insert Tiago earlier in the season, stubbornness is why were are out in the first round this year. Tim isn’t the same anymore and he needs a solid big to play opposite and help give the team a good 15 and 10 night after night. Tiago could be that but we need to let him play. And for all the positives that matt gives us in stretching the floor it more than doubles on the liabilities he gives us with defense. We need to replace Matt and Dyess and get not only younger on the interior but also bigger. Memphis didn’t just beat us, the imposed their physical superiority on us and it made us look soft just like phoenix made us look slow last year. Tim needs a true center to work along side him and I think it needs to be in addition to Tiago bc Timmy will eventually retire and we will need someone to step in and take his place when that day comes. Keep you fingers crossed for a productive off season, go silver and black.. GSG!!

  • Bob

    I agree Blair should have played for the last game. The Spurs really got killed on the boards. At the same time Blair’s got to be smarter about what to do when he gets an offensive rebound.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I don’t want to go thru that again dude. 61 and 13 then bow out. What’s the point.?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Oh yeah I’d rather do without a stupid coach. Looks like your a regular season fan not a playoff fan.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Well said, Said it all season long that style of play and disregarding the development of the other big is going to bite them in the ass but many said “don’t fix what ain’t broke”. But it was broke they just didn’t know it until the real games started and all that running and gunning pushing the ball as primary focus wore the shit out of them by the time they needed to play for money.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Exactly he (TS) has his strength’s and this coach now knows what he can do and how to play him.

  • Titletown99030507d

    It was worse IMO than the Hill thing.