Why should Tiago play?

After tying their first round series at 1-1, the San Antonio Spurs will face a tough task of stealing homecourt against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Yes, Game 2 was Manu Ginobili’s night but it’s clear that the Spurs will be needing every bit of Manu’s magic to be able survive this Grizzlies squad and more.

The only thing the Spurs did was to even the series, not take control of it.

On Saturday they will have another chance to do so. Will they deliver? It’s hard to argue against the Spurs especially when Ginobili is playing like the Manu of old.

But you have to wonder how long can Manu keep up with his bag of tricks. In the first two games, the tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have outscored Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess.

Although the Spurs did a great job in containing the Grizzlies bigs in Game 2, it is apparent that Duncan needs more help in the post. This is where Tiago Splitter comes in.

While some people would disagree with this thinking, I believe that Splitter deserves some minutes. If the playoffs is all about matchups and the Spurs’ frontline looked overmatched  by the Grizzlies frontcourt, then why isn’t Tiago playing?

His offseason injury clearly affected his development and have yet to earn coach Gregg Popovich’s trust fully.

Or it could be a matter of not enough minutes for the Spurs’ big man rotation. Duncan is averaging 35.5 minutes in two games, McDyess 20 and Blair 17.

If Tiago plays who sits? McDyess? Blair? Bonner?

But you can’t teach height, and I find it hard to imagine that he will not contribute if given the chance. In 60 regular season games, Splitter averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 52.9 percent from the field in just 12 minutes per game.

He also proved that he can be productive when given enough playing time. In six starts, Splitter averaged 8.7 points and 7.0 rebounds while playing 23 minutes per ball game. He also had a double-double (10 points and 14 rebounds) on March 21 against the Golden State Warriors when Tim Duncan went down with an ankle injury.

Tiago Splitter can play that’s for sure. In fact he is great playing the pick and roll with either Ginobili or Tony Parker. Not only that, he is an able defender and with his length, size and mobility,  the Spurs’ interior defense could improve.

This reminds me of George Hill’s rookie year when Popovich declared “this playoffs isn’t for him” pointing out that Hill isn’t ready for the playoffs only to end up using his rookie guard towards the end of the 2008-09 first round series against the Dallas Mavericks albeit to a losing cause.

By all means this Spurs are better than last year and I am not saying they might suffer a similar consequence by not playing Splitter this post season, I just believe he can help.

If he plays 10-15 minutes to save McDyess or Duncan’s legs, wouldn’t that be huge if the Spurs goes deep into the playoffs?

Nonetheless, Popovich is one of the best minds in the NBA. I admire and respect him, but that doesn’t mean I’d always agree with the way he does things.

And if he decides to keep Splitter on the bench while the Spurs are able to advance to the next round who am I to question him?

What do you guys think? Is it time to let Splitter play against the Grizzlies? Share your thoughts.

10 thoughts on “Why should Tiago play?

  1. Nice post! I think Tiago Splitter deserves playing time. McDyess isn’t playing well right now. Maybe the Spurs should experiment on starting Splitter along with Duncan, Blair is effective coming off the bench.

  2. Popovich will not sit McDyess, he prefers veterans over rookies. If Tiago plays I think Matt Bonner should ride the pine at the end of the bench. Gary Neal can hit the 3-point shots better than Bonner.

  3. Tiago Splitter is a good player but he don’t have enough experience, I think that is the main reason why he is not playing. Two more things, Splitter is a very poor foul shooter and is foul prone.

  4. I firmly believe that Splitter can help the Spurs. In the games he played especially when he has enough playing time. He plays solid basket ball. But Troy28 brings up a great point, Tiago has two major weakness, keeping himself out of foul trouble and making free throws. However, I think if he plays this will not be a big deal especially if plays good interior defense and be a banger that he is.

    Thanks everyone for commenting and for your support here on Spurs World!

  5. Tiago’s playing time will be up to coach Pop. I don’t think this is the time to use him but if the Spurs are able to take 3-1 lead and have a chance to wrap up the 1st round in five games. then Pop should give Tiago some playing time to get his feet wet in the playoffs. I said this because I think we will need Tiago if the Spurs makes a deep playoff run.

  6. I think they have to play Splitter now that Mcdeiss went down. Splitter with Duncan would be interesting to see on the court at the same time or at least allow him to play when Duncan is resting. That way you see how he is playing and decide to ramp up his minutes or throttle them back. The spurs signed him they should use him and not save him for garbage time.

  7. Sadly Pop values the importance of Bonner & Blair for spacing on offense and hustle respectively far more than the solid ‘D’ and size that Tiago brings to the table. It pains me watching the two-headed Gasol/Randolph monster making deep catches time and again and finishing straight up over their shorter counterparts. I was yelling at my tele for Pop to make a change. Pop is stubborn because he’s great, and great because he’s stubborn. I’m just hoping he’s making the right decision in the long term or us fans will be pissed.

    COME ON SPURS. I’ve invested too much time, energy and effort to be disappointed like this!

    • I agree with your sentiments. Now the Spurs are down 2-1 and McDyess is hurt a little maybe coach Pop will find some time to use Tiago Splitter.

    • I couldn’t agree more but Pop do things differently. I’m just hoping he makes the right decisions and help the Spurs to get out of this 2-1 hole against the Grizzlies.

      We don’t for sure if Tiago Splitter will affect the series in positive way because he isn’t playing. Hopefully the Spurs don’t use him when it’s a little too late like what Pop did to George Hill in his rookie season.

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