San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw shot 1-5 from the field and scored just two points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals despite playing 33 minutes, the second-most court-time he’s notched in the playoffs. Such paltry scoring numbers would normally suggest a lack of impact for a player that makes his name on the offensive side of the ball, but not Diaw – his plus-minus of +30 was a team- and game- high by eight points. Gregg Popovich touched on the unique impact of the portly Frenchman at Friday’s press conference.
Prompted by Paul Flannery of SBNation to discuss Diaw’s influence beyond the box score, Popovich responded with rousing praise.
“He’s a very versatile player. Some players have a feel for the game that is better than others – he’s one of those. He can pass the basketball… He knows where people are, he knows where the ball should go, and he anticipates.
And on defense – although he’s carrying around a bit of luggage – he does his work early and positions himself pretty well. He allows to play big and play small at the same time.”
Diaw’s rare two-way adaptability is always of great use to San Antonio, but especially against the Miami Heat. Not only does his flare for playmaking and improved long-range shooting exploit the Heat’s defensive activity, but his blend of size and quickness makes him a viable option to defend LeBron James, too.
Popovich elected to use normal starter Tiago Splitter alongside Tim Duncan to open Game 1, but don’t be surprised if Diaw gets a starting nod as the Finals continue. Splitter and Duncan played just eight minutes together last night, netting a -4 in the process; Diaw and Duncan, on the other hand, made up the Spurs frontcourt for 23 minutes and compiled a +22, the team’s third-highest plus-minus.
Either way, just one year removed from a DNP-CD in Game 3 of last year’s NBA Finals, Diaw has clearly emerged as a key cog in San Antonio’s efforts to dethrone the two-time defending champions. When he’s making plays like this, it’s easy to see why:
Do you think Diaw’s strong play will continue?
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