Duncan and Dirk For The Last Time?

By Ryan McCallum

Unless San Antonio goes on some unheard of winning streak heading into the playoffs, this was the final game between these two teams this year. More importantly, this may have been the last regular season game between longtime frenemies Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan. The two future hall of famers couldn’t have had too more different playing styles, but have led to the same championship end. Dirk’s game was transformational for the forward/center position. A seven-footer who refuses to play in the post, on either end of the court, but draws nothing but the sound of nylon popping as he launches unguardable step back jumpers. Duncan’s game is boring, ordinary, predictable, and transcendent. He will be remembered as the greatest power forward of all time for his ability to execute fundamental basketball, despite defenses knowing exactly what is coming there way. His defensive game is all-time, and he has five titles (to-date) to prove his legacy.

Dirk and Tim fittingly would both play limited minutes, as Rick Carlisle and Gregg Popovich are reacting them for the playoffs. Also appropriately, they would also have virtually the same performance, albeit in their respective areas of strength. In 29 minutes, Dirk would log only seven points but dole out four assists. Duncan, would snag 13 rebounds, lead all players with three blocks, and add eight points.

A motivated Spurs team took charge early in the game, up by 13 heading into the half. But this was, and always is with Dallas, a game of runs. The Mavs went on a 23-6 tear from the end of the first half and into the third quarter. On the tail end of that stretch, Dallas’ Monta Ellis injured is right knee and would not return. Ellis has been perhaps Dallas’ best player this season, and is a thorn in the side of San Antonio, having just scored 32 points in the Dallas victory earlier this week.

San Antonio is now 46-26 on the season, with a potential of moving as high as fourth in the Western Conference playoff standings. Dallas, now 45-28, looks to be rooted in the seventh spot, trailing the Spurs by 1.5 games with only nine remaining in their season.

A big test for the Spurs looms on Sunday when the play host to the Memphis Grizzlies. The outcome of this game should be very telling for the Spurs’ chances in the playoffs.