Spurs will try to ride Duncan in Game 7
Time for Tim
SAN ANTONIO, Texas, June 22 -- Spurs guard Brent Barry said it best when asked how he could explain the team's inability to get Tim Duncan touches in the post during San Antonio's dismal fourth quarter in Game 6 of The Finals:
"We've thrown it to other people," he said Wednesday.
Barry was in no mood for joking, however. The Spurs' 95-86 loss Tuesday night chilled the emotional temperature of the team's media availability session at the SBC Center Wednesday. Part of the Spurs' plan for the opportunity to save face on Thursday includes investing more effort in getting their star player involved in the ball game.
"There were many opportunities where he was in position where he needed to get the ball and it didn't happen," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said about Game 6. "So I think our perimeter has to be a lot wiser in situations when we get a rebound and we go up the floor without a called play to know where Timmy Duncan is on the court and to remember that that's how we played all year long."
The first time Duncan touched the ball in the fourth quarter Tuesday night was with 7:23 left on the clock. Popovich said Duncan received only nine touches after that, and they all came within the context of the Spurs' motion offense, meaning they were mostly in situations in which he wasn't in position to shoot.
Duncan told the press after Game 6 forcing field goal attempts would have been worse than not taking them at all. Although he reiterated that statement Wednesday, it's clear he realized he needs to be more demanding of the ball in Game 7.
"I feel I need to be assertive, but I don't need to be overly assertive," Duncan said. "I think we're going to stick with our game plan and we're going to continue to move the ball. We're going to use our pick-and-rolls to move the defense and find open shooters.
"But at the same time, I want to be aggressive. I want to get the ball. I want to be effective more than anything. And how do you balance that? I don't know."
If Duncan is confused, it's understandable. Much of the responsibility for his fourth quarter invisibility falls squarely on the shoulders of point guard Tony Parker, whose strengths are more geared towards scoring and not playmaking.
Parker acknowledged his teammate's plight, however, saying, "We definitely will try to get him the ball and make sure we get him in great situations and get his confidence going."
The Pistons are well aware of the fact that Duncan's teammates will look for him more in Game 7 than they did in Game 6. Given his array of post moves, it'll be difficult for Detroit to stop Duncan if they try to defend him from behind. According to Pistons forward Antonio McDyess, Detroit's greatest success against the two-time Olympian has come through fronting the post, which denies him the ball.
"We've got to make it tough on him," added Detroit center Ben Wallace. "Since he's the only guy in the post, we've got to throw everything at him."
For All The MarblesÖ
The last time the NBA has seen a Game 7 in a Finals series was in 1994, when Houston defeated New York, 90-84 at The Summit. Needless to say, Game 7s are a rare occurrence in the NBA. It's not often that two teams are so evenly matched that it takes that number of contests to decide the rightful owner of the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
"It's very fun in the sense that who would not want to be involved in something like that?" said Popovich. "Sure, you'd rather be 4-0 and go on vacation, but short of that, if somebody said at the beginning of the year you're going to be in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, it's a lock, you'd say, I'll take it,"
"You dream about playing a Game 7 in the NBA Finals," added Parker. "Itís my first one and itís a great challenge and I just canít wait. There is going to be a lot of excitement, and that is what you live for -- play big games and itís a great opportunity."
Popovich claimed there was no added pressure in being involved in a Game 7, but Spurs guard Manu Ginobili admitted angst is a factor in the equation. Ginobili has extensive experience playing in pressure-packed situations because of his participation in the Euroleague Final Four and gold medal games in the FIBA World Championships and 2004 Olympics. He said an NBA Finals Game 7 is "very similar" to those circumstances.
"You're nervous, a little anxious, because whatever you did in the last ten months, it comes back to just one game," he explained. "You win it all or you go back home with nothing."
-- Brad Friedman will cover the Spurs throughout The Finals.
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