The Spurs are coming off a hard-nosed win against the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime, and even though the team looked good overall, the play in the paint was a big issue. Tim Duncan assumed much of the burden with Tiago Splitter injured, and Jeff Ayres didn’t do much with their starting chance. That situation can’t be repeated again, so Boris Diaw should replace Ayres in the starting lineup.
The Mavericks have toughness down low, but they also have a threat in Dirk Nowitzki. The German star can shoot from virtually anywhere on the court, and his mobility would be a huge problem for Duncan, who doesn’t have the energy or the skill-set to defend Dirk outside the paint. Boris Diaw, on the other hand, could help in that regard since he’s much more adept to play far off the rim on both ends of the court.
Diaw doesn’t have the height required to be a lockdown defender on a guy like Nowitzki, but he should do a much better job than Duncan. His ability to shoot from the perimeter as a stretch-four could also be handy since that would allow Duncan much more space to operate in the paint where he’s a mismatch to virtually any other player in the league.
Player by player, the Spurs clearly have the advantage against the Mavs and they should come away with an easy win. In order to avoid any surprise, however, starting Diaw over Ayres could be a move that pays off in the end.