Originally posted on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 3/22/13
The matchup of the game will be between San Antonio Spurs starting center Tiago Splitter and Utah Jazz starting center Al Jefferson. This will mark the return of Tony Parker to the Spurs as he's been activated for the first time since his injury at the beginning of the month against Sacramento Kings. This will make this matchup even more intriguing as Parker was one of the reasons why Splitter has been playing at a high level this season. Tiago's pick and roll game was a nice fit for Parker and for the team as a whole because it opened up shots for 3-point shooters and opened the lane for Parker. Splitter will be playing against Al Jefferson, who's a physical center that likes to back down his opponents. These two players have different games on the floor and it will be interesting to see how they play against each other. What Splitter must do on offense: He has to keep moving and setting picks for teammates on or off the ball, especially with Parker being back. Tiago is one of the best pick setters in the league and they give the ball handler a few more seconds to get open or find someone on the court. He's shooting 65% (227-347) from the restricted area and is primarily a pick and roll finisher. He's shooting 31% (19-62) from the paint area, but he hasn't cracked over 70 attempts yet. This means that, while he's a huge part in the Spurs' success, he's a very limited offensive player. This may be a problem for Splitter as the Jazz like to go with a big lineup including Derrick Favors, Paul Milsap, and Al Jefferson at the same time and that may clog up the paint for Splitter to finish on pick and rolls. If this happens, Splitter has to set good screens to allow his teammates to shoot in a pick and pop situation or get someone else open off the ball while forcing the defense to move with him over being set. What Splitter must do on defense: The Spurs will have a hard time with the Jazz early on the defensive end. They like to pick and roll or pop while mixing it up with some Al Jefferson post ups. Splitter will be crucial in this area because he'll have to help on defense while trying to defend a big man with a really good perimeter jump shot. Don't be surprised if Jefferson takes the majority of the shots and that they will be on the perimeter as the Spurs would prefer mid range jumpers over layups and 3-pointers. Splitter's athleticism will play a huge part against Jefferson as Jefferson is more of a traditional center in every meaning of the word. If Splitter can help out on defense and his use foot speed to give Jefferson trouble on defense and offense, the Spurs should come out with a win tonight.
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