Splitter Must Counter Warriors' Versatility

Splitter will have to play to his potential in second round.
The Western Conference Semi-Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors starts on Monday night. The matchup will be between two high scoring teams who score in different ways, especially San Antonio with a balanced attack. With the Spurs having a week off and the Warriors having eliminated the Denver Nuggets a few days before they meet, this series will largely depend on who can outdo the other on both ends of the floor.

One huge advantage for the Warriors is their versatility. With David Lee injured, the team has inserted Harrison Barnes at power forward while starting Jarrett Jack. That moved pushed them over the top against the Denver Nuggets. This move not only makes the Warriors an offensive threat, but also athletic on the defensive end. Mark Jackson opted to start Barnes at small forward and move Jack back to the bench and this luxury that Golden State's coach has should worry the Spurs. Barnes is shooting 40% (13-32) from beyond the arc and will be a vital tool in the second round.

When the Spurs have been faced teams that had small lineups against them during the regular season, they've opted to stay with a bigger lineup and this is especially the case with the starting lineup. Gregg Popovich has been known in the past to be inconsistent with his starting lineup to find some chemistry and balance with the team. This season has been different. Tiago Splitter has risen above the rest of the big men in the rotation to start alongside Tim Duncan and has improved his offensive skills from last season. Splitter is well equipped to take care of himself in the paint on the defensive end and can now pick and roll or back down smaller defenders in the paint, something that will be crucial if the Warriors go small. Splitter has one of the quickest feet for his height and that will be part of his matchup against whoever the Warriors decide to put on him. Splitter shot 65% (227-347) from the restricted area, a spot on the court that the Warriors don't defend well.

Splitter will be the X-Factor in this series, depending on his health. He injured his ankle late in the first round and it's not known how he will react to returning. The Golden State Warriors are not a physical team and that's good news for him. The bad news is that they are a quick team, which will test out his injured ankle and his conditioning. He'll have to be aggressive throughout the game when he's on the floor as he'll have to be the most effective big out there not named Tim Duncan.

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