Skip to content

Spurs need Duncan to step up if they want to reach the Finals

Jun 3, 2012, 12:41 AM EDT

timmy-game-4

Tim Duncan‘s legacy is largely beyond reproach. The man has four NBA titles to his name, is one of the two greatest players of his generation, and just recently became the all-time playoff leader in blocked shots.

And yet, his play in the Western Conference Finals hasn’t been all that special.

Duncan will get a pass from his coach and his teammates, and probably even from his fans for his lackluster performance in this series against the Thunder, one that his Spurs now find themselves all tied up in at two games apiece.

The reality is, though, that if Duncan doesn’t assert himself and play to his full capabilities for the remaining two or three games of these Western Conference finals, his Spurs may be done.

Sure, Duncan was 9-of-17 shooting in Game 4 for a team-high 21 points. But his offense came very quietly, and had virtually no impact in a game where his team desperately needed one.

No one is saying that Duncan is no longer capable of dominating a game offensively for his Spurs; in fact, it’s the opposite. San Antonio needs to feature its Hall-of-Fame big man to the point where he touches the ball on nearly every possession, with the decision to shoot or make the pass to the open man lying completely on his intelligent and capable shoulders.

In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Duncan was efficient and magnificent; excuse me for channeling my inner Clyde Frasier. He shot 23-of-49 from the field in the first round against the Jazz, and 38-of-64 from the field in the second round against the Clippers.

Those shooting numbers were good for marks of 47 percent and 59 percent respectively. Against the Thunder in this series, Duncan is just 22-of-58, for just 38 percent.

Now, it’s easy to argue that Tony Parker‘s individual performance is more important to his team’s chances, considering the explosive ability he has to not only score, but to create easy opportunities for his teammates. But Parker has to perform at a certain level for the Spurs to even be within contention; to push them over the top, Duncan is the one who has to raise his game.

The Spurs have made it this far in the postseason with a surgical level of execution from role-players and stars alike. They had been getting timely shots off of open looks from seemingly everyone who touched the ball, after a series of screens and well-timed passes made their way into the hands of whomever was open at the time. But the offense by committee has stagnated in Games 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City.

For the Spurs to get back on track, take control of this series, and earn themselves a trip to the NBA Finals, they’ll need Duncan to step up one last time and deliver as we know he can. San Antonio needs to feature him, and let him go to work against the Thunder’s front line. The defense has shifted its focus to slowing Parker and Manu Ginobili on the perimeter; it’s time for San Antonio to trust Duncan in this series, just as they have in so many series past.

Latest Posts
  1. James Harden and Dwight Howard show Mavericks what they’re missing in Rockets’ Game 1 win

    Apr 19, 2015, 12:45 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game One Getty Images

    Houston outscores Dallas by 14 in 10 minutes with Howard and Harden, get outscored by four otherwise in 118-108 win

  2. Dwyane Wade says he won’t opt out of current deal to become a free agent this summer

    Apr 18, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade has the ability to hit free agency, but is choosing to stay in Miami for at least one more season.

  3. Bradley Beal waves goodbye to Kyle Lowry after Lowry fouls out of Game 1 (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Bradley Beal AP

    The basketball was ugly, but this still may be a very competitive series.

  4. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on Wizards’ Paul Pierce: “We don’t give a sh-t about ‘It'”

    Apr 18, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT

    Masai Ujiri AP

    Ujiri cusses at a playoff pep rally for the second straight year.

  5. PBT First Round Playoff Previews: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Apr 18, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    How do you feel about a lot of hack-a-Jordan for six or seven games?

  6. Why the 2015 NBA playoffs feel wide open – but probably shouldn’t

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    With most 2014 conference-finalists eliminated, Warriors are clear favorite

  7. PBT Extra: Houston, Dallas simply do not like each other

    Apr 18, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Their rivalry goes back until the Dwight Howard free agent recruitment. If not earlier.

  8. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: ‘There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets’

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1 Getty Images

    Cuban also says of Houston: “that’s not a very good team over there.”

  9. PBT staff playoff predictions: Lots of Golden State love from us

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Draymond Green, LeBron James AP

    Three PBT writers pick the Warrior to beat the Cavaliers in the Finals.

Featured video

Can Boston put a scare in Cleveland?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5371)
  2. C. Parsons (5278)
  3. D. Rose (5200)
  4. P. George (4888)
  5. L. James (4776)
  1. M. Conley (4740)
  2. S. Curry (4429)
  3. K. Bryant (4390)
  4. R. Westbrook (4350)
  5. D. Howard (4321)