Let's face it. The Spurs are not one of the top defenses in the league anymore.
They are not bad, just average. Average is not what the Spurs are used to, especially under Coach Pop. Currently, they hold opponents to 97.7 points a game, which is 13th in the league.
It is no secret to why this is. The Spurs lack depth inside and a solid front court to support Duncan.
The 14-year vet Antonio McDyess has stepped his game up lately and has been inserted into the starting lineup in place of DeJuan Blair. I assume this was done for size, since Blair is listed as 6'7" and gives up considerable height to opposing centers.
Tiago Splitter, the 6'11" rookie center from Brazil, has also seen playing time lately in the mist of recent injuries. He has filled the gap quite well by providing a big body for defense and grabbing rebounds when the Spurs need them the most. The Spurs also have Matt Bonner, but he is usually on the perimeter and is not much of an inside presence on defense for the team.
What does this mean and what can the Spurs do?
Well, the Spurs have known all season that one adjustment would be made in the playoffs—a heavy dose of two-time MVP Tim Duncan. After rationing his minutes all season in preparation for the playoffs, it is now time to unleash the beast.
Timmy showed last night against the C's he can still put up numbers, going for 20points and 13 rebounds. More importantly, he was able to play over 33 minutes and provide defensive stability, adding two blocks and a steal.
What about the other players?
At the moment, it appears Pop will go with Antonio McDyess as the starter and Duncan's main supporter for the rest of the season and playoffs. He gives the Spurs size, defense, interior passing, and a solid mid range jump shot. While I support this decision, I believe a good rotation of McDyess, Blair, and Splitter is best to keep the Spurs fresh and keep opponents off guard.
Blair supplies the energy needed off the bench that Ginobili was able to provide in previous years as the sixth man. Splitter, on the other hand, gives the Spurs an extra big body and a defensive presence in the paint, especially if the Spurs bigs have foul trouble early in the game.