SAN ANTONIO – The cast on Tiago Splitter’s left wrist doesn’t mean he had an unexpected and violent meeting with the glass case of a fire extinguisher. It also doesn’t mean that alarm bells will be going off in the Spurs’ locker room if their center can’t be in the lineup for Game 2.
Boris Diaw will continue to start at center. But DeJuan Blair, who started 62 games at center during the regular season, will be the first big man off the bench. Blair entered the game when Splitter was ruled out for the second half of the series opener after getting hurt trying to break a fall. Blair played 10 minutes, scored five points and grabbed two rebounds.
“DeJuan Blair is ready to go,” said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. “He did a good job (in Game 1). He sat for a long time, but he came in and got right to it.”
While the 6-foot-11 Splitter gives the Spurs more length on the front line against the bigger, bulkier Jazz, the 6-foot-8 Blair makes up for what he lacks in height with ferocity and hustle.
The fact that the Spurs won’t fret or hardly blink at the absence of Splitter is a product of the deep rotation Popovich has used all season. Never mind that old adage about it being important to go with a shorter rotation in the playoffs.
“Our strength all year has been our depth and the fact that we can play so many guys,” said Tim Duncan. “I don’t think we’re gonna shrink for that. We’re going to use it to our advantage. Pop has a lot of options out there in playing that many guys you can feel out who’s on and who’s off and play from there.”
If there’s a battle cry for these Spurs, it’s a simple one: “Next!”