- Created on Saturday, 11 May 2013 18:15
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by Jeff Noital
San Antonio looked older and uninterested during the first two games. They gave up a huge lead in the first two games and in one of the two (Game 1, 16 point deficit) was the team able to come back from behind and win the game. With Tiago Splitter out the first game, the Spurs looked to Boris Diaw (his first game back from back surgery) to start alongside Tim Duncan. While they're probably the most versatile duo of the Spurs' frontcourt, the bench production from the big position suffered with no depth especially with a Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair combination waiting for them on the bench. Game 2 was a much different story in the scheme the team was trying to play. Head coach Gregg Popovich opted to start Matt Bonner in place of Diaw with Splitter coming off the bench in his first game back from an ankle injury against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. This game was probably the most "un-Spurs" like game San Antonio played this postseason with the team sacrificing defense for offense. Bonner only made one shot (1-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2 points) in 16 minutes with San Antonio losing the game 100-91.
In Game 3, there was the familiarity the Spurs were used to. Tiago Splitter was placed back into the starting lineup and everyone seemed to return to their normal roles. The perimeter defenders of the Spurs, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, seemed more comfortable knowing there was a legitimate big man waiting to help in the paint. Tony Parker was more comfortable getting arguably the best screen setter on the team back in the starting lineup. With a shorter rotation in the playoffs, Bonner and Blair are an afterthought with Diaw in front of them in the rotation and Popovich possibly going small for spurts. The team basically ran a 7 man rotation Diaw and Ginobili taking the majority of the bench minutes, but the nostalgia came back. The Spurs didn't allow Golden State to win a quarter and didn't allow them to score more than 25 points in the four quarters of Game 3. The team held the Warriors to 31.6% 3FG shooting, a long ways away from the 47.8% 3FG statistic that buried the Spurs' Game 2 chances.
With the re-emergence of the Spurs' traditional system in Game 3, it might be time for their fan base to breathe a sigh of relief after the first two games. Splitter may not have played well in his firat game back as a starter, but the intangibles he brought that didn't show in the box score were there. Tim Duncan didn't have to play like he was 8 feet tall because of a non-rebounding big man next to him and he didn't have to be the focal point of every offensive play like he did in the first two games. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were smothered on defense because defenders knew they had help in case they decided to drive in, the kind of help that wouldn't let them score easily. Two big men in the paint protecting the rim? That sounds like Spurs basketball again.