NBA Finals: Tim Duncan and the Importance of Staying Big

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) reacts during the fourth quarter of game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Alright. I admit it. I was one of those people expressing a confounded disbelief that Greg Popovich and the Spurs would go small to match up and sit Tim Duncan in the final defensive :30 or whatever it was of Game 6 that allowed the offensive rebound and a second crack for LeBron to nail a 3.

Grantland’s excellent Zach Lowe enlightens…

I’m honestly not sure how many people who screamed about Popovich’s Timmy-related decisions realized that on the first Miami possession in question — the one that ended with LeBron’s 3-pointer to cut the Spurs’ lead to 94-92 — Bosh was not in the game. The Heat had zero big men on the floor, meaning Duncan, with lots of time on the clock, was going to have to chase either an elite ball handler or an elite shooter (or Dwyane Wade). And the rebound Duncan supposedly would have gotten on that possession was one of those turbo-speed, downward-moving line drives that will hit some poor dude in the face during a pickup game. LeBron missed his first 3-pointer so badly the rebound went shooting down toward the floor, and into the area between the heads of Leonard and Wade. The Heat only got it back after a battle of leaping tips between Leonard and Wade, a hustle play Wade won.

I should feel eviscerated, but I don’t.

I believe staying big is the reason the Heat had such trouble with the Spurs in these Finals. I believe daring wings to shoot instead of allowing them to slash their way to the rim endlessly is the path you take if you have the inside presence to do so and by making them pay for their lack of size on the other end you change the makeup of their entire squad.

Tiago Splitter wasn’t the man for the job, necessarily, but I’m imagining Kevin Love — healthy — changing the landscape with Pek as an anchor.

As a Wolves fan, I have to, because I can’t imagine Pek chasing around Wade anymore than I can see him shutting down Tony Parker (except that one play where he did, you know the one I’m talking about). But as Zach Lowe points out, Wade won the race to the rebound anyway.

So I should feel eviscerated, but I don’t.

Topics: Greg Popovich, Kevin Love, LeBron James, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA Finals, Nikola Pekovic, San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan

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