There hasn't been a lot of positive things said about Tim Duncan this season as the longtime lifeblood of the San Antonio Spurs has began to show his age. Duncan turned back the hands of time in an impressive 24-point, 11-rebound effort his last game out, however, and will look to continue that resurgence on Tuesday night against the Miami Heat.
Duncan is on the wrong side of 35, but the former Wake Forest Deamon Deacon has been the most consistent player in the NBA over the past 15 seasons. It seemed he was finally declining this season, but Pounding the Rock's Matthew Tynan recapped his excellent performance from Sunday with some fawning words most didn't expect to read regarding the Big Fundamental this season.
Still, it was a pleasure to watch. As refreshing as it is seeing the Spurs' youth mature, there's still greatness they're all far from achieving. Luckily for them, that greatness is right in front of their eyes, teaching by example. Education systems don't get much better, and tonight they had a chance to learn. After several games watching the bench do most of the damage to its opponents, the Spurs' starting five did its job tonight with the Big Fundamental leading the way. Whether he was crossing over between his legs to set up a baseline fadeaway or spotting up for what has become an automatic jumper (well, "jumper" ... more like "stander") Duncan was feeling it tonight. Despite his age and increasing minutes in the absence of Ginobili, the 15-year vet is looking spry on both ends of the floor. As Pop said after the game, both he and Nash are models of dedication.
As far as LeBron James and the Heat are concerned, they enter Tuesday night's home game as losers of three straight games. Peninsula is Mightier's David Dwork points out news more troubling than that, however, regarding the injury status of Dwyane Wade (Happy birthday, Dwyane!).
Miami may have to begin the tough stretch without Dwyane Wade, as his availability is uncertain due to an ankle injury sustained in Denver on Saturday night. That injury comes after he already sat out 3 games due to a bruised left foot. Wade sat out the teams practice on Sunday and while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is being very secretive about his top guards status, my guess would be that D-Wade is going to rest for a few days and give his injuries some time to heal.
Both teams picked up 30 point victories at home over the other when they met last season, but it's obviously quite different circumstances this season.