The first two games of the Western Conference Finals featured a parade to the rim for the Spurs, thanks to a size advantage inside against a Thunder team that was without its rim protector in Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka returned for Games 3 and 4, however, and his presence immediately put a stop to what the Spurs had been doing so successfully.
After getting beaten handily in Oklahoma City the past two games, and with a final chance at home to reclaim control of the series before it’s too late, Gregg Popovich is making a change in his lineup to try to reverse the recent trend.
Matt Bonner is getting the start and Tiago Splitter will come off the bench, according to multiple reports.
Bonner averaged less than six minutes per game through the first three in this series, but played well in extended garbage time in Game 4, scoring eight points in 16 minutes as part of a group that cut into a lead that had reached as many as 27 points.
What Bonner should do is provide more spacing for the Spurs offensively, and theoretically draw Ibaka out of the paint defensively if in fact that’s the way Oklahoma City decides to match up.
Either way, it’s an interesting decision by Popovich, and one that’s understandably a little bit desperate given all that’s at stake. Bonner hasn’t started a single game for the Spurs this season, and averaged just 11.3 minutes per contest in 61 regular season appearances.