SAN ANTONIO — Gregg Popovich said at shootaround Sunday morning that a change to the starting lineup was possible, and when asked again during his pregame media availability at the AT&T Center about 90 minutes before tip-off, his one-word answer was “maybe.”
It turns out, he was giving us a bit of a heads up.
Manu Ginobili will be in the starting lineup for San Antonio for Game 5, replacing the ineffective Tiago Splitter. Miami’s small ball attack, and the way they crushed the Spurs the last time out, likely forced Popovich’s hand.
Ginobili has struggled in this series, so we’ll see if being on the floor from the opening tip with the starters has a positive effect on his level of production. Popovich was asked on Friday if he was concerned about Ginobili’s struggles.
“Well, of course I am,” Popovich said. “He’s having a tough playoffs, and he hasn’t really found a rhythm or found his game yet. I think that he’s obviously not as confident as usual, and he knows full well that he hasn’t performed the way he would like and the way he’s used to. But it’s simplistic to say, what are we going to do to get him going? He’s going to get himself going or he won’t. He knows that he’s got to play better for us to be successful.”
The Spurs obviously decided to see if giving Ginobili a spot in the starting lineup can jump start his game.