Tiago Splitter was supposed to have a coming out party in the playoffs, but poor play of late could result in the San Antonio Spurs benching their center, according to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express News.
The 6'11 Brazilian was highly effective against the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring efficiently against one of the toughest frontcourts in the league. Then LeBron James happened -- OHHHHHHHH HO HO HOHO OH DUDE WATCH IT AGAIN -- and since then, Splitter's game has been shot. He averaged 10.3 points per game in the regular season, but has yet to hit double digits in the Finals. In Game 4, he was blocked on two of his three field goal attempts. Gregg Popovich kept Splitter in the starting lineup, but opted to pull him after less than a minute, and he totaled just 13:41 of playing time, his lowest amount of on-court action since an injury in the conference semifinals against the Golden State Warriors.
Popovich opted for Boris Diaw, starting the Frenchman in the second half instead of Splitter. Splitter's size could make him a mismatch problem for a Heat squad that likes to work with Chris Bosh as their biggest player, but he hasn't been effective offensively, and Diaw's skill set makes him better suited for guarding smaller players. As Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News wrote, Popovich could stick with that personnel choice:
"That's Pop's decision," he said. "You cannot blame him for my bad game. I will do whatever I have to do to win a game. If it's to be 48 minutes on the bench, or play 48 minutes, I will."
Diaw, who sparked a late first-half rally in Game 4 that tied the game by intermission, is just as anxious as anyone to find out if Popovich makes a change in his starting lineup, as Miami's Erik Spoelstra did after his team's Game 3 embarrassment.
Splitter can be incredibly useful to the Spurs if he shows up, and his play in earlier series made him seem like a prime candidate for big money this offseason -- either from an NBA squad or from overseas. But he isn't much help right now, and Popovich wouldn't be crazy to opt for a better matchup.