Feb 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Nate Robinson (2) attempts a shot between San Antonio Spurs players Kawhi Leonard (2) , Tiago Splitter (22) and Boris Diaw (33) during the fourth quarter at the United Center. The Spurs won 103-89. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Boris Diaw to start in Game 3 of NBA Finals vs. Miami Heat

In the battle of elite head coaches, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich bats the first eyelash as he makes a change to his starting lineup, inserting Boris Diaw into the forward spot.

Like in the Western Conference finals, small-ball has limited the effective of Tiago Splitter. He’s played better than in last year’s NBA Finals, but Boris Diaw has provided the San Antonio Spurs much more on both ends of the floor due to his versatility to create on offense and defend perimeter players.

Replacing Splitter with Diaw allows the San Antonio Spurs to deploy their most effective lineup of Diaw, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili. In 19 minutes of play, the above-mentioned lineup has posted a net rating of 73.8. The same lineup with Splitter instead of Diaw has yet to be seen in the NBA Finals.

In 65 minutes, the San Antonio Spurs have posted an offensive rating of 113.4 and a defensive rating of 93.5. In the 31 minutes without Diaw, presumably Tiago Splitter being in his position, those numbers take a nosedive as the offensive rating dips to 104.8 while the defensive rating jumps to 127.8. They rebound worse with Diaw on the bench, the turnovers increase, they pass less, and defend the paint better, all things critical to keeping the Miami Heat from dominating.

Through two games the series has been extremely close outside of the Lebron-less minutes during cramp-gate. Even with Diaw inserted into the starting lineup, it’s hard to see this pattern changing.

Tags: 2014 NBA Finals Boris Diaw NBA NBA NEws San Antonio Spurs Tiago Splitter

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