After a four-game sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs are headed back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007 and the fifth time in Duncan’s illustrious career. All four prior trips ended with the Spurs hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy; three (1999, 2003, 2005) resulted in Duncan earning Finals MVP honors.
He’s one of the great Finals performers in NBA history, averaging 22.7 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and three blocks per game in the championship round, and his 22 Finals games have included some amazing individual efforts. I went back through Duncan's NBA Finals history with the help of Basketball-Reference.com's database, checked out his game-by-game output and identified his top title-round outings as defined by "Game Score" — a handy little metric developed by ESPN columnist-turned-Grizzlies executive John Hollinger to provide "a rough measure of a player's productivity for a single game."
The rankings leave some room for quibbling — there isn't a single appearance from the Spurs' 2005 championship win over the Detroit Pistons, for example, a series in which Duncan posted three 20-plus-point/15-plus-rebound games and put up 25 and 11 in a deciding Game 7 — but by and large, it's a pretty comprehensive guide to just how dominant Duncan's been on the sport's grandest stage. While we wait for Duncan to write a new chapter at age 37, let's take a look back at the best passages from the brilliant tome he's already written.
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