The matchup of the game when the San Antonio Spurs face off against the Los Angeles Lakers will be between Tiago Splitter and Dwight Howard.
With the news that Kobe Bryant will be out the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles, the focus on the Lakers offense will likely be Dwight Howard. Howard is averaging 13ppg and 15rpg against the San Antonio Spurs this season and will look to duplicate those numbers in the last meeting of the season between the clubs. Tiago Splitter has also been impressive against the Los Angeles Lakers this season averaging 11.5ppg and 11.5rpg this season. This matchup will likely feature more of a workload for Howard in the paint than Splitter, especially with Tony Parker making his return against the Sacramento Kings.
What Splitter must do on offense:
The Lakers aren't known for their defensive mindset this season and a pick and roll tandem with Splitter and Parker will test their that out this game. Splitter is one of the best pick setters in the league this season and that will open the ball handler to an open shot, especially if Howard plays the paint. Splitter is also one of the best big men to move around without the ball in the league on offense and will play a huge role early on in the game. With Tony Parker and Tim Duncan having the attention of the Lakers' players, Splitter's back screens and cutting to the basket will be valuable to the team. He has to be aggressive on the offensive end when he's scoring however because Dwight Howard is one of the league's best defenders at the rim.
What Splitter must do on defense:
Howard is strictly an inside player and his 65% (292-447) is a big indication that's the only strong point of his game. Splitter will likely have to make catches in the paint difficult with pressure and force Howard to catch the ball as far from the rim as possible. When Howard shots from the paint and not in the restricted area, he's shooting 39% (48-124) and it doesn't get any better farther away from the basket..The Spurs can benefit with Howard working hard in the paint for shots over the team double teaming and leaving open shooters for three point shots. Splitter has to stay smart and not foul Howard for And 1 opportunities. If he can stay disciplined on the defensive end, it will be extremely hard for the Lakers to keep up with San Antonio this game.