On This Day: Tim Duncan has one last classic playoff game
In less than a month, the San Antonio Spurs will have another Hall of Famer representing them in Springfield. Tim Duncan is set to be enshrined on May 15th alongside Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. While we’ll have special coverage of that event, I couldn’t overlook one of his most impressive performances ever — one that happened on this day in 2015.
Looking to defend their 2014 title, the Spurs finished the regular season 55-27 but were still somehow the sixth seed going into the playoffs. Although the Portland Trail Blazers finished with a 51-31 record, the seeding format at the time called for all division winners to be ranked in the top four regardless of record. The problem with the format was immediately addressed after it was clear it was, well, dumb.
The unfortunate seeding called for the Spurs to face the 56-26 Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, which ultimately led to a classic series that went down to the wire.
The San Antonio Spurs make it a series behind a throwback Duncan game
On this day in 2015, the Spurs were looking to bounce back from a 15-point Game 1 loss at the Staples Center. As he did hundreds of times before, Tim Duncan answered the call when he was needed the most.
After playing 77 regular season games, Tim Duncan had a ho-hum opener in the 2015 playoffs, shooting 4-of-10 to finish with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Game 2, however, was a different story.
In a game that needed overtime to decide a winner, 38-year-old Duncan played a team-high 44 minutes in a performance for the ages. Watching Tim go toe-to-toe with 26-year-old Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan this late in his career was incredible.
While many of Griffin’s 29 points were dunks and athletic maneuvers, Duncan’s old-school, street-smarts style was a stark but effective contrast.
Duncan finished the night with 28 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two steals to lead the Spurs to a 111-107 victory in what ended up being the last time he scored 25 or more points in an NBA game. It was a performance that showed how Tim was able to use substance over style throughout his 19-year career.
As Duncan’s Hall of Fame induction approaches, we’ll have plenty more about his magnificent career in the coming weeks.