Tiago Splitter Injury: What His Absence Will Mean for the Spurs

Garrett JochnauCorrespondent IIFebruary 21, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 11:  Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets drives in the second half against Daniel Green #4 and Tiago Splitter #22 of the San Antonio Spurs at Prudential Center on February 11, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The official report came in bearing bad news for San Antonio fans. Both Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter are expected to miss two weeks.

Its not the worst news, but its still two weeks too many. The Spurs are used to playing without Ginobili and were 15-7 during his first absence. With their plethora of guards, the team should have no problem filling his void again.

Splitter is a different story. The 6'11" big man was a key member of the team and a main reason for their success.

While his stats may not be stellar, his role for the team is as important as anyone else's. With Blair and Bonner, the Spurs have two big men who are incapable of guarding big centers. Duncan's age limits his minutes and ability.

Splitter, young and aggressive as he is, provides size to the Spurs second team. His defensive ability helps him guard the centers that Duncan can't while he is out.

Other than those four, the team does not have a true big man. And with Splitter out, their only answer was to call up Eric Dawson from the D-League.

What does this mean?

As Coach Popovich said, the team will be forced to play a lot of small ball. Kawhi Leonard will be huge factor. While he is only 6'8'', his incredible defensive ability and ridiculous wingspan will be crucial if the team wishes to contain larger players during breaks where Duncan is forced to sit.

The team will also not have a true "post" player coming off the bench. The only real big man is Bonner, whose comfort zone is beyond the arc, not in the paint.

The team could face many problems if Splitter doesn't return in time for contests against the league's most prominent big men.

Hopefully, his rehab goes well, and he can return earlier than expected, but for now, Spurs fans will have to hold their breath.