entered the starting lineup in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. (John W. McDonough/SI)
SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has changed his starting lineup for the first time in the Finals, replacing center Tiago Splitter with guard Manu Ginobili for Game 5 on Sunday night.
Ginobili joins Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan in the starting lineup.
The move comes one game after Heat coach Erik Spoelstra replaced power forward Udonis Haslem with small forward Mike Miller in his starting lineup before Miami went on to defeat San Antonio 109-93 in Game 4 on Thursday. Popovich subbed out Splitter in favor of reserve guard Gary Neal less than one minute into Game 4.
Ginobili has been in a bit of a slump throughout the 2013 postseason, shooting 37.7 percent in the 2013 playoffs, the lowest postseason shooting mark of his career, and that number has dropped to 34.5 percent in the Finals.
“Of course, I am [concerned],” Popovich said of Ginobili's play. “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.”
Ginobili's 10.6 points per game in the playoffs is his lowest postseason mark since his rookie season and he’s tallying just 7.5 points per game in the Finals.
“Yes, I am surprised [by my play],” Ginobili said after Game 4, according to CBSSports.com. “I wish I could score more, but it’s not happening. I’ve got to try and do other stuff, I’ve got to move the ball if the shot is not falling.”
The Spurs and Heat are tied at two games apiece entering Game 5 at San Antonio's AT&T Center. The series will shift to Miami for Game 6 on Tuesday and, if necessary, Game 7 on Thursday.