Spurs Worried But Not Afraid With Duncan’s Injury
Twelve more games remaining in the regular season for the league-leading San Antonio Spurs. Only one of the last dozen teams are out of playoff contention (the Sacramento Kings). The other eleven are itching to steal one against them.
Most specially with Tim Duncan out on injury.
The 34-year old all-star forward incurred a sprained ankle during their game against the Golden State Warriors last Monday. Duncan picked up a dime from Tony Parker, attacked the basket for an easy lay-up, but ended up disturbing his ankles when he tried to avoid landing on Ekpe Udoh’s feet. The four-time champion had to be assisted as he limped his way out of the court.
Spurs GM RC Buford confirmed reports that Duncan will be missing the next three road games, beginning with the tip-off at Denver, but also said it can extend up to three more games, depending on the final results of the upcoming X-rays. An MRI test done on Duncan gave the breather after it was found out that he did not break or fracture a bone with his akward landing. The swelling, however, is a severe one, that had Duncan grimacing in pain even after immediate aid was administered.
Despite losing Duncan that night, the Spurs cruised to a 111-96 win over the Warriors, the 25th consecutive home win against an opponent, the longest active streak of that sort in the league. The Spurs are looking to sweep Denver this season with a win on Wednesday. This is the first face-off between Denver and San Antonio since Carmelo Anthony was traded to the New York Knicks.
Duncan has been averaging career lows this season, but his teammates all resoundingly say his presence has been the key for their outstanding performance this year. The Spurs are poised to break the franchise record of 63 wins set during the 2005-2006 season with the rate they are playing. But this was a prognosis given prior to Duncan’s injury. The prediction has yet to face the biggest challenges in the next twelve games.
Coach Gregg Popovich expects two bench players, Tiago Splitter and Steve Novak to fill in the void that Duncan has left probably for the remainder of the season. After Denver, the Spurs are facing Portland and Phoenix twice each, Memphis, Boston, Houston, Utah, Sacramento, Atlanta, and LA. Seven of these games will be road games (San Antonio is 24-10 on the road, 33-3 at home), including a game against a possible playoff opponent in Memphis, and a game against the Lakers. The standings can still change, especially with the defending champs just seven games behind the Spurs.
The Spurs are still confident about how they will be handling the games. Coach Pop expressed that this is a good time to test the mettle of the team now that their anchor player is sitting out for the next few games. Nonetheless, a team devoid of a player whose playoff and championship experiences have been tested has a lot of reasons to worry.
Even still, according to Pop, the Spurs have nothing to be afraid of.