Gregg Popovich tabbed Matt Bonner
to start in Game 5. (Layne Murdoch Jr/NBAE/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO -- Following two straight losses, the Spurs have decided to tweak their starting lineup for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Thunder on Thursday.
Matt Bonner will enter the lineup for starting center Tiago Splitter, joining Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan. The move should spread things out for San Antonio and is likely intended to reduce the impact of Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, who has dominated the paint since returning from a calf injury in Game 3.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich didn't reveal the lineup change during his pre-game press conference, saying only that he would "probably not" use his same starting lineup from the first four games of the series.
"We're figuring it out right now," Popovich told reporters, less than two hours before tip off.
Bonner, 34, averaged 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game over 61 appearances this season. The 10-year veteran shot 42.9 percent on three-pointers this season.
The change marks the first of this postseason for the Spurs, who had started Parker, Green, Leonard, Duncan and Splitter throughout the 2014 playoffs. The Parker, Green, Leonard, Duncan and Bonner lineup played just 27 minutes together during the regular season and four minutes during the playoffs.
Oklahoma City will continue to start Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Kevin Durant, Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, a lineup they have used for the last two games. After Game 2, Jackson entered the starting lineup for regular season starter Thabo Sefolosha and Ibaka reclaimed his starting spot from Nick Collison, who had filled in during Ibaka's absence.
The Spurs and Thunder enter Game 5 with the series tied at two games apiece.
More SI.com NBA playoff coverage
2014 NBA playoffs schedule, results | Predictions: East finals | West finals
JENKINS: New NBA commissioner Adam Silver his own man (magazine)
SI ROUNDTABLE: Will KD, Russ win a title? | Star that needs a fresh start?
2014 NBA DRAFT: Mannix’s post-lottery Mock Draft | Lottery winners, losers
STERLING COVERAGE: Why NBA won’t allow Sterling’s wife to control Clips
VIDEO: Conference clashes are polar opposites | Pacers can’t afford to lose…
DURANT: Watch emotional MVP speech | Appreciating greatness | SI coverPHOTOS: Greatest upsets
| NBA playoffs fashion
| LeBron’s best playoff games