Tim Duncan is only one of the best players in the history of the game. It should go without saying Duncan must be neutralized in order to beat his top-seeded San Antonio Spurs. What matters is how you neutralize him.
Tim Duncan is never going to be completely eliminated from the game. We need to accept reality here. Tim will get “his” even at the ripe old age of 37. Yes, he’s 37. During the regular season Tim Duncan averaged 29.2 minutes per game. Those aren’t part-time minutes but they are less than the nearly 33 Dirk Nowitzki averaged. After all, 3-4 minutes add up over the course of a season.
By keeping Duncan fresh during the regular season, the Spurs are able to overuse him from time to time through the playoffs. That happened in Game 1 when Duncan logged 38 minutes (the most on the Spurs) and scored a game high 27 points. 38 minutes probably wasn’t the plan but after seeing how the Mavericks were playing them, Pop adjusted.
The Mavericks have been horribly burned by the Spurs 3-point shooting in the past, and in Game 1, seemed dedicated to stopping the open 3s.
We got killed on 3s in the first four outings this year. It was no secret. We stayed home a little more on 3-point shooters, but you’ve gotta give them something…
Tim Duncan was that “something”. The strategy was a solid one it just didn’t work out in the end. The Mavs have been beaten too many times by open outside shooters. They couldn’t afford to collapse on Duncan everytime and let Timmy kick out to those open shooters. The Mavs had to try something new and it almost worked.
In one on one situations, Duncan is going to win more than he’s going to lose but the Mavs need to keep trying. Mixing in the occasional double team (to keep everyone honest) is also a good idea. The Mavs need find the right single defender to pester Duncan into poor shots but that’s obviously easier said than done.
This weekend I lobbied hard for heavy minutes to Devin Harris and DeJuan Blair. Harris got his but Blair was a non-factor playing only 4 miserable minutes. Blair may still be a key player in trying to neutralize Tim Duncan. Blair is much shorter but he’s extremely physical and will make Duncan earn every inch.
Blair is still a little peeved at how his Spurs career ended last season and will play with a little revenge motivation.
The Mavericks are close to figuring this out but they need to find a way to frustrate Tim Duncan. They need to make him work harder on both ends of the floor and wear him out. I suppose more than 11 points each from Dirk Nowitzki and Monte Ellis would be nice too…
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