On Thursday night when the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, there was an interesting sequence to begin the second half.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich elected to start forward Boris Diaw instead of center DeJuan Blair in the third quarter. Blair wouldn’t see action for the rest of the night as Tim Duncan, Diaw, Matt Bonner, and Tiago Splitter were the closing members of the frontline for the last 24-minutes of the game.
After the game, coach Pop spoke on why he made the move in the second half, and said because he needs Diaw to get more minutes and get more acclimated in the system.
“I want to get him acclimated. I want to get him into our program, the only way you do that is by getting him to play.”
During the Lakers game on Wednesday, I was taking notes for a piece I’m saving for this week. In my notes, I noted that the most times the Laker’s went into their attack position in the post was when Andrew Bynum or Paul Gasol had Blair matched up on them. It was like watching a dog viewing a steak, and just savoring to run and eat it. Blair unfortunately was the steak to the Lakers.
Over the weekend, Pounding the Rock wrote a good piece that shows statics as evidence to why the Spurs should play Blair less, and Splitter and Diaw more. After reading the article, it made me wonder if the transition in minutes is already beginning?
On Saturday, the Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns, Blair logged 10 points and 22 minutes in the blowout. Diaw and Splitter played more than 15-minutes each, but the majority of those were garbage time minutes for Diaw.
With eight games remaining after the Spurs host the Suns tonight, coach Pop has a decision to make in whether Diaw will have a major role in the playoff rotation and sacrifice Blair’s minutes, or play Blair and hope that what happened on Wednesday against the Lakers doesn’t happen in the playoffs. The indication that Blair’s minutes might be up for the taking were some of Pop’s final comments Thursday evening about Diaw.
“He can’t do much sitting on the bench,” said Pop.
So if Diaw isn’t going to be sitting on the bench as much, that means either Blair, Splitter, or Bonner will be sitting a bit more on the bench. My guess is the guy who didn’t play in the second half Thursday against the Grizzlies.