One glimpse into the Spurs’ under-the-radar personality this season involves the fact that Duncan is getting almost no love for Most Valuable Player, even though in the past you couldn’t utter the name of that award without also mentioning Duncan in the same breath. He’s averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and almost 2.5 blocked shots per game, and as usual, the Spurs would be nowhere without him.
That isn’t to suggest that Dirk Nowitzki’s numbers (about 25 points, 9 rebounds per game) or those of Steve Nash (about 19 points, 12 assists) aren’t worthy or superior, but rather that Duncan at least belongs in the discussion, and the fact that he really hasn’t been underscores the Spurs’ relative acquiescence this season.
True, it’s difficult to label the Spurs disinterested when they’ve had the best record in the NBA since the All-Star break, 23-4 entering Monday night’s game at Memphis. Of course they’re still potent. Of course they’re still a factor.
But are they a factor in the sense that they’ll really make the Suns sweat in the conference semis, maybe even push them to a Game 7? Or can they win the championship?
Duncan claims that Crawford “came into the game with a personal vendetta against me.” At this moment Stu Jackson, the NBA’s VP of basketball operations, is poring over tapes of Sunday’s game to try and read Duncan’s lips throughout the contest to see if he’s telling the truth. When Jackson is finished, he’ll probably suspend Kobe Bryant for one game.
What will be apparent on review is that Duncan showed a little gumption. It’s that time of year when NBA fans expect passion out of their stars. They also expect victories, and on that count the Spurs failed to deliver on Sunday in Dallas. The Mavericks are tough anywhere but especially difficult at home.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
It is a wise warrior who knows when to retreat, regroup, and then come back fighting again even stronger. This might be the case with Duncan. He may have trouble in some playoff games when he looks out on the court and sees that his old nemesis Joey “The Thumb” Crawford is dancing in place as his handlers woof encouragement. But overall, his sense of outrage and his newly stoked fire can only help San Antonio.
This one may go the distance.
Y! Sports: For Roy Hibbert, a sense of ownership means knowing he should have fought to get in the game with two seconds remaining in overtime, when his absence allowed LeBron James to hit the winning lay-up.
PBT: After it looked like Paul George's heroics would sink the Heat in Game 1, LeBron James stunned Indiana with a layup as time expired to lift Miami in OT.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
LeBron: 'I just made a layup'
LeBron James hit the game-winning shot as time expired in overtime to beat the Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, but he says, "I just made a layup."
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