“That's Pop's decision,” Splitter said of being relegated to bench duty. “You cannot blame him for my bad game. I will do whatever I have to do to win a game. If it's to be 48 minutes on the bench, or play 48 minutes, I will.”
Splitter played all of 14 minutes in Game 4, committed three turnovers—one of which came after the Spurs won the opening tip—and had two of his three shot attempts blocked.
Gregg Popovich opened the second half with Boris Diaw at center, who posted a plus-three despite the Spurs inevitably losing by 16 to Splitter's minus-11.
When Pop initially removed the big man early in the first quarter he also went to Neal, who had another strong outing, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-5 from downtown).
It's been suggested that Pop could make a similar change to start Game 5.
“I don't think that would happen,” Diaw answered when asked if he or Neal could start in place of Splitter, “but I wouldn't be surprised at anything with Pop.
Nor would we.
Erik Spoelstra started Mike Miller over Udonis Haslem in Game 4, shifting LeBron James to power forward, and the results were staggering.
Though Miller himself was just 0-of-1 from the field, he played a strong defensive game and his presence alone permitted the Heat to space the floor in ways they never could have with Haslem. The switch also allowed LeBron to become a more active defender of Tim Duncan-Tony Parker pick-and-rolls, an added benefit that aided in Miami's 16-point thrashing.
In attempt to combat a smaller lineup with a smaller lineup, replacing Splitter with either Neal or Diaw becomes a strong possibility.
“We know we have a whole team behind us, helping," Splitter admitted. "We have to be smarter and stronger next game.”
Being smarter may entail San Antonio playing without Splitter in the starting five.