San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan Bringing Back the Defense

After a great start to the season, we’ve heard a little bit less of Tim Duncan. Part of the reason was Tony Parker taking things to another level  possibly the MVP kind, but it was also about Duncan taking a step back, getting injured and resting. Now it’s his turn to dominate for the San Antonio Spurs, bringing it on both ends of the floor.

Duncan finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks, the 83rd game of at least 18-10-5, and his fourth this season. While it seems that any team can have their defense look good against the Chicago Bulls in their current version which should be nicknamed ‘hustling and waiting for Rose’, the Spurs did do a great job in forcing the offensively limited Bulls to take bad shot after bad shot, keeping them at 36.7% from the field, and not allowing them to get into the paint. Chicago scored only 22 points from the inside, getting to the line only 8 times. It’s almost impossible to win basketball games that way, especially without a reliable go-to-guy.

A big key for the win was Manu Ginobili, who has been somewhat of a missing ingridient during certain stretches this season, especially earlier in the year. He played only 26 minutes, but scored 18 points with a few trademark shots that only Manu can make, adding 9 assists. It was the 12th time this season Ginobili scored 18 points or more (averaging 12.5 points on 23.5 minutes), but the Spurs are 10-2 when he finds it that easy to score.

In a game of runs, eventually the team that could make something happen in a half court offense won the game. The Bulls had separate runs of 15-1 and 15-0. The Spurs had runs of 15-0 and 14-2. They also had a lot more firepower in the second half, as the Bulls were outscored in the final 24 minutes 54-31. There’s good defense in Chicago, but it simply can’t hold down the fort while the offense, run by Nate Robinson, who simply isn’t the kind of point guard you want leading your team for most of the game, looks nothing like, well, anything organized or coached.

In the first half it was not great, not bad either, but the second half was great. We attacked and moved the ball around the court from side to side and that is what you have to do against good defensive teams. I think that is something we should be really satisfied about. I thought defensively we were really on the mark in the second half all the way around. I think all the way around it was a really fine effort. It was a physical game. It looked a lot like a playoff game atmosphere with intensity.

Tom Thibodeau made it pretty clear what he thinks of the way his team is playing offense at the moment – You can’t hold on to the ball. The ball has to move side to side. They’re too good defensively. In the second half we settled; we took some poor shots. With the depth that they have, they’re going to make you pay.

No one plays offense like the Spurs do, even when Tony Parker isn’t on the floor. If their defense can be this good once the playoff begins against someone, lets say, the Thunder, in a 6,7 game series, maybe everyone saying they’re a championship team will actually come true after six years.

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