The matchup of the game between the San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings will take place in the paint between centers Tiago Splitter and DeMarcus Cousins.
During the first matchup between the two teams this season, San Antonio came out on top with a 97-86 win on November 9. While the Spurs showed dominance over the Kings after the first quarter, it was a different San Antonio team that played. DeJuan Blair was still the starting center at that time while Tiago Splitter was the fourth big in the rotation after Boris Diaw. Now Splitter is the starting center and will likely defend Cousins on every play. Splitter only played 16 minutes and contributed 6 points and 3 rebounds while Cousins started and chipped in 14 points and 9 rebounds.
What Splitter must do on offense:
He has to keep the offense in motion throughout the game. The Kings are a very inexperienced team and forcing them to make decisions on defense. Splitter's constant screens and rolls to the basket will have an effect on Cousins' offense too as he'll have to keep using his legs throughout the game. Splitter shot 100% (2-2) in the restricted area with Cousins in the game during the first meeting, which isn't surprising as DeMarcus isn't known for protecting the rim.
What Splitter must do on defense:
Cousins' main characteristics are on offense. He's averaging 17.3ppg in 31.4mpg and prefers to do his damage in the restricted area where he's shooting 59% (193-325). Splitter must push him far away from the basket as possible and also boxing him out after the shot. Cousins is only shooting 33% (80-245) this season and lower than that for three pointers (which isn't likely that he'll be looking for that shot). Splitter's new found confidence may disrupt Cousins' rhythm in the paint with his height and wingspan. Look for the Spurs to make Cousins shoot and have Splitter help out for the majority of the game.