Splitter out of frying pan, still in fire

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Tiago Splitter talks after the Spurs’ practice on Monday

SAN ANTONIO — A lot of players have had tough defensive match ups in the playoffs.

You could put Tiago Splitter’s duties at the upper end of the scale. In the first round, his hands were full of Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavs and in the second round he was the first man up on the Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge.

Now with Serge Ibaka sidelined by a calf injury for the Thunder, Splitter isn’t sure what to expect.

“We gotta see who’s going to take that spot,” Splitter said after Monday’s shootaround ahead of Game 1. “For sure the focus is a little bit different. We know that (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant are the two key players and that’s a little bit out of my range. I’m going to try to help the team the same way, try to guard. Of course, you’re gonna help a lot.”

Primarily, it’s all about rim protection for Splitter.

“Definitely,” he said. “Not just me, but everybody. They like to drive. They like to run the fast break we got to be there.”

Splitter was in his second NBA season when the Spurs and Thunder last met in the 2012 playoffs and he became a focus of Game 2 when OKC coach Scott Brooks chose to foul him intentionally to send him to the line.

Splitter made 6 of 12 shots in the that game and Spurs won, but it was a strategy that disrupted the flow of the San Antonio offense and might have been the first step toward the dramatic reversal in the series. Splitter’s minutes steadily decreased until he played just 39 seconds when the Thunder clinched in Game 6.

Splitter’s free throw percentage has actually declined from 61.8 two years ago to 52.3 this season. He’s currently shooting 58.8 in the playoffs.

“I’m not anxious,” Splitter said. “It’s a different situation. It caused me to work more. Definitely. I knew I wasn’t and I’m still not the best shooter. But it makes you work. Makes you feel like you got to work more.”

8 Comments

  1. okc2014 says:

    Splitter has no rhythm. This is inherited not learned.

  2. ey says:

    isnt it funny how splitter gets handled but we pay him millions and millions

  3. Helen Stendt says:

    Tiago’s shooting improved a lot in the past two years. Hack-a-splitter is no longer a viable option.
    Not sure we’ll see a lot of Splitter anyway, he might loose his spot if OKC goes small ball.

  4. squala96 says:

    Splitter is very predictable. For a big man, he gets blocked too often. If he’s not quick enough already, he needs to develop his own tactics to compensate and really become a respected center. Pop has made him useful, but he can be better still.

  5. Mammel says:

    Cmon, Fran. Double check your stats on this one.

  6. Jimmy says:

    Tiago is currently shooting %70.7 during the 2014 Playoffs. Don’t know were they got %58.8, that would be his FG %…just sayin’

  7. GREGORY INGRAM says:

    I love the Spurs they are my home town team! but Splitter needs to learn how to pump fake rather than just going straight up for a lay-up and please teach him how to use perefial vision, Im tired of seeing guys 5’8 blocking his shot because he doesnt pump fake and he goes up slow, and I know asking for a jump shot from him is deffinatley out of the question.

    v/r

    Greg