Popovich: Diaw to start in Game 1 vs. Warriors; Splitter to possibly return in Game 2


AT&T Center – The second round of the Western Conference playoffs are upon the city of San Antonio as the San Antonio Spurs prepare to begin a new series against the Golden State Warriors.

With a new series at hand, a familiar face on the Spurs will be making a return to the lineup as Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said Boris Diaw, who had been recovering from a synovial cyst excision of the lumbar spine, will start in game one against the Warriors.

Tiago Splitter will be out in game one as he continues to recover from his sprained right ankle, but Coach Popovich said Splitter will definitely play in the series either as soon as Wednesday in Game two or at most this weekend in one of the games in Golden State.

To add more relief for Spurs fans concerned about the health of the team, Popovich said Manu Ginobili, whose minutes were restricted in the first series against the Los Angeles Lakers, is fully ready to take on regular minutes each game against the Warriors.

Switching topics, Popovich recently made a comment about how watching Warriors guard Stephen Curry reminded him of watching Michael Jordan. The media blew the comment out of proportion and even Curry responded, “Was he drunk when he said that?” when being made aware of Popovich’s comment.

Popovich confirmed this much: “I’m pretty sure he’s not Michael.” Popovich clarified that his comment comparing Curry to Jordan was in the sense that you just stare at him watching him play.

Lastly, Popovich said he stopped counting how many days his team was off in-between the series and tried his best to keep his players fresh and healthy at the same time. He said he watched the first quarter of the Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls first game and noticed some rust on the Heat. He said he turned the game off in hopes that his club doesn’t come out as rusty as the Heat.

Before Popovich made his comments about the Spurs, Warriors head coach Mark Jackson took the podium. He said his center Andrew Bogut is ready “for the challenge” of defending Tim Duncan.

“He’s a future Hall-of-Famer,” said Jackson of Duncan. “The way he’s conducted himself has been beautiful.”  Jackson said the Warriors want to keep Duncan away from the rim and his players must also be aware of Duncan’s pick-and-pop game. Jackson added that many players have tried to stop Duncan and have failed.

On one of his own injured stars, David Lee, Jackson said he has been inspirational to his team and he would only use Lee in the series against the Spurs if it was absolutely necessary.

“It truly is a miracle when you look at him running, doing drills,” said Jackson of Lee. “A couple of days ago, he had a tough time walking. It really does something for my guys to watch him every day. This is a special group.”

“It depends on the moment,” said Jackson of the possibility of Lee playing in a game. “But it’s getting better and better. He’s in no position to start tonight and give me big minutes.”

“It would have to be an ideal situation where I needed him.”

In conclusion, Jackson knows this Spurs squad is a whole other level of opponent as compared to the team he just sent home, the Denver Nuggets.

“In this series, you’re talking about a team that likes to run,” said Jackson of the Spurs, “will execute you to death, and don’t beat themselves.”

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