How does one play with the notion of divorce hanging over his head? It’s hard to tell, but the Memphis Grizzlies need to hope it does somewhat shake Tim Duncan and sway him towards the negative if they’re hoping to have the smallest of chances and beating the San Antonio Spurs in a series.
Usually, anything un-basketball related that happens to a player, especially in the middle of the postseason, is an unwanted distraction. But Tim Duncan has been through quite a lot since he entered the league in 1997. Surely, his personal situation isn’t going to become something he can’t overcome on the court, right?
Maybe he’s happy he’s getting a divorced. One can never tell. It might have a negative effect, as many assume, which is why the actual proceedings are probably being delayed until the playoffs are over. Not wanting to go through all the legal hell, Duncan might produce the kind of basketball we haven’t seen from him since his early days in the league, when he was arguably the best player on the planet, hoping to just stay away from the negotiation table as much as possible.
The Spurs have been executing their defensive plan perfectly, while their offense has taken a dip in game 2, as expected. There’s only so many shots the Grizzlies defense is going to allow a team to make. The Spurs and Tony Parker ran wild in the opener, but couldn’t keep the same rate of hitting shots two days later.
Duncan? He’s there to stop Zach Randolph or come as the help on either him or Marc Gasol. Having Tiago Splitter on the floor becomes an enormous help as the series goes on, being the guy that enables Duncan to do more and just be limited to one role on defense. It helps him become a lot more versatile and useful on a team level, which is why the Spurs, unlike previous seasons, had a top 5 defense this year.
If the Grizzlies are going to start making dents in the Spurs’ armor, it begins with finding a way around Duncan, who hasn’t been huge offensively, but has meant the world to both teams, with different effects, in his defensive contribution. Be it putting his body in the paint to stop Randolph or making Marc Gasol look a lot less effective than he did against the Thunder, the true worth of Duncan is shining bright once again in a somewhat of a renaissance season for him. The Spurs are hoping nothing “unimportant” disrupts it from staying that kind of campaign for him.