The San Antonio Spurs will start Manu Ginobili in place of Tiago Splitter in Game 5 of the 2013 NBA Finals, according to coach Gregg Popovich. It will be the first game Ginobili has started all season.
The move certainly qualifies as a surprise. The 35-year old Ginobili has struggled against the Heat in this series to a significant degree, averaging just 7.5 points per game on 34 percent shooting from the field. Ginobili had a rough game on both sides of the ball in Game 4, and now will be tasked with guarding a suddenly revitalized Dwyane Wade.
Popovich clearly felt the need to go small after watching Splitter have a hard time defensively in Game 4. The 28-year-old finished with just four points and three rebounds in under 14 minutes of work during Miami's 109-93 victory. Despite Ginobili's struggles this series, he was still an asset to San Antonio in the regular season. Ginobili averaged 11.8 points on 42.5 percent shooting with a 19.0 PER in the regular season.