Well, this sucks.
Despite the hype, we know that Monday’s showdown between the Spurs and Warriors is only going to be a window into the playoff series we hope to get this May. But we’re going to be able to see a little less through that window now.
Is Duncan actually sore or is this Popovich gamesmanship? Who knows. It doesn’t matter, the result is the same.
Duncan’s scoring numbers may be down — 8.9 points, 7.5 rebounds a game — but he remains a vital part of what the Spurs do, particularly on defense. The Spurs are 3.7 points per 100 possessions better when Duncan is on the court. Using ESPN’s real plus/minus (an adjusted +/- taking into account other players on the floor, and other variables) Duncan has the best defensive numbers in the NBA. He still plays efficiently.