The Curious Case of Tim Duncan: And the Spurs 2011-2012 Season

The Curious Case of Tim Duncan: And the Spurs 2011-2012 Season

 

As the hectic 2011-2012 NBA season draws to a close this week, even Benjamin Button would be impressed by the Spurs and their age reversal.  Standing at the top of the Western standings may not be a new thing for the Spurs, but the infusion of young hard-nosed players like Danny Green and rookie Kawhi Leonard, and the addition of key veterans like Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson, have addressed the weaknesses that cost the Spurs an early first round exit at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.  However even more importantly, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have  played at a much needed higher level especially with Manu Ginobili missing half the season due to injury.

The Memphis Grizzlies exposed the Spurs as an old, undersized and nonathletic team.  Pitbull defenders Tony Allen and Mike Conley hounded the Spurs in the backcourt, to the point where the Spurs had trouble just initiating their offense.  Not only did Memphis have an athletic and size advantage in the backcourt, but their frontcourt provided a last line of defense that stopped the Spurs from getting into a winning rhythm.

The passive Richard Jefferson struggled to make any impact, and the lack of help was too much for the distracted Tony Parker and one-armed Manu Ginobili.  These mismatch problems were seen again a week ago when the Lakers blew the Spurs out at San Antonio, with first time All-Star Andrew Bynum pulling down a record-setting 30 rebounds while Tim Duncan was limited to 2.

NBA analysts were quick to call the Spurs pretenders after that massacre, but Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich made a key adjustment that Spurs fans have been waiting for ever since drafting Tiago Splitter, and that’s matching up sizable opposing frontcourts with the Spurs’ own twin towers.  And the result?  The Spurs blow out the last two games against the Lakers by a combined 45 points.  In the last meeting, which Bynum promised a Lakers win, he was held to just 2 rebounds of his own like it was poetic justice drawn up by the Spurs coaching staff.

Tim Duncan has been on a mission to get revenge after experiencing the worst moment of his career, losing to an 8th seed in the playoffs, and you can see it on the court and on the boxscore.  Not only did Duncan call out the Grizzlies for tanking last season, but the Big Fundamental missed his first All-Star game, breaking his streak of 13 consecutive appearances, and is working to make the league remember he’s still a top flight bigman in this contract year.

Duncan is quicker and more assertive with his moves, and he turned back the clock as his scoring average jumped 6 points compared to last season, and his Per36 numbers and winning impact show that he still had a case for the All-Star game.  One year removed from Eva Longia  divorce distractions, Duncan’s resurgence has been shadowed and reinforced by Tony Parker, who is having a career year and solidified himself as a MVP candidate.

With a season sweep over the Grizzlies and thorough domination against the Lakers, the 2011-2012 Spurs have shown that you can’t cheat father time.  Instead, the Spurs joined forces with the undefeated nemesis by getting younger and hungrier replacements, and have become prime candidates for a run to the NBA Finals.