Skip to content

Tim Duncan on how the Spurs are slowing LeBron James: ‘We’re guarding him with five guys’

Jun 12, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT

SPO-BASKET-NBA-FINALS-SPURS-HEAT Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — A day after LeBron James was held to just 15 points and didn’t get to the free throw line for a single attempt, Tim Duncan was asked to explain how in the world his team has been able to slow the league’s MVP to playing like a mere mortal for the third consecutive game.

“We’re guarding him with five guys,” Duncan said.

Kawhi Leonard has gotten the bulk of the assignment guarding James, and has done a terrific job of forcing him into where the help awaits as part of the Spurs’ team defensive scheme. But more than that has been the constant awareness by everyone on the San Antonio end of the floor just how dangerous James can be.

“We understand what kind of player he is,” Duncan said. “He’s the best player in the world, so we’re respecting him as that. We’re trying to make his life as difficult as possible every time he touches the ball. When he comes out in the open court, that’s obviously where he really thrives. If we can keep those away and keep his rhythm down, it’s better for us.”

LeBron spoke specifically about what the Spurs have been doing from an Xs and Os standpoint to be able to limit him in the series thus far.

“They’re doing a good job of when I come off pick‑and‑rolls, they have a guy shrink the floor at the elbow and getting a big in front of my body and a guy guarding to pursue the ball as well,” James said. “They are putting me in a position where they can crowd me a lot.  If I can get the ball in transition where I’m facing my defender or maybe just one other defender, I can break their defense down.”

James fully expects to be more aggressive in Game 4, and even guaranteed a better performance. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, however, said it wasn’t all about LeBron, and insisted that his defense is geared to stop whoever Miami happens to get going as long as his team sticks to its principles.

“Our team defense is not just LeBron,” Popovich said. “Just like Miami’s team defense is not just Tim Duncan or Tony Parker. Team defense is exactly what it says — it’s for everyone. You all keep bringing up LeBron, but we’re guarding other people with the same team defense that we’re guarding LeBron, and they’re guarding us with their team defense. It doesn’t change based on every single individual and every time down the court. Team D is team D.”

Latest Posts
  1. Rumor: Kevin Love out minimum of two weeks, will likely miss most or all of series vs. Bulls

    Apr 27, 2015, 2:34 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwzjymvhyzgwzgy5njixztvmzwrlzgzmymqxyza3ytg5 AP

    Love being out could be an issue in the next round as the Cavs take on the Bulls.

  2. Monta Ellis, J.J. Barea pairing ignites Mavericks offense, gets Dallas Game 4 win over Houston

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:38 AM EDT

    Monta Ellis, Trevor Ariza AP

    The question is can Dallas replicate all they did right on the road?

  3. Wizards blow out Raptors to complete first-round sweep

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors

    Another stellar performance from John Wall buries Toronto’s season.

  4. Watch Chris Paul, Blake Griffin combine for big days to even Clippers with Spurs (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:17 PM EDT

    Blake Griffin, ,Chris Paul Blake Griffin, ,Chris Paul

    The Clippers needed their big stars to step up Sunday or they were going to be in a very deep hole. They got it.

  5. Chris Paul scores 34 points, Clippers win Game 4 to even series with Spurs

    Apr 26, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT

    Tiago Splitter, Chris Paul AP

    Blake Griffin grabbed 19 rebounds, and Austin Rivers (!) chipped in 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench.

  6. Report: Sixers to select D’Angelo Russell in 2015 NBA Draft

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Ohio State v Indiana AP

    “He’s the guy they want,” the report says.

  7. LaMarcus Aldridge flew back to Portland after Game 2 loss while rest of Blazers stayed in Memphis

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

    Players were given the option by the team’s GM, but Aldridge — who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer — was the only one who chose to leave.

  8. Grizzlies start fast, hang on to beat Portland, take 3-0 series lead

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:37 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Memphis’ offense was the best it has looked this series.

Featured video

Stephen Curry starting to define playoff legacy
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Rondo (4622)
  2. C. Parsons (4228)
  3. N. Mirotic (3694)
  4. K. Durant (3684)
  5. D. Lee (3639)
  1. T. Parker (3478)
  2. K. Bryant (3466)
  3. P. George (3348)
  4. P. Beverley (3131)
  5. A. Afflalo (3123)