Tim Duncan VS Dirk Nowitzki


Halfway through the second round of the NBA playoffs, fans can get a good idea about what team may have the staying power to get to the next round. It isn’t surprising that each of those clubs has a leader in one of the primary fore court positions-- power forward, small forward and center.

Tim Duncan is at power forward for the San Antonio Spurs and is leading the NBA playoffs at that position in points per game (23.5 PPG) and field goal percentage (59.86). Against the Mav’s, he’s putting in 31.3 PPG and hitting 58.75% from the floor. However, the Spurs are down in their series against the Dallas Mavericks, three games to one.

Across from Duncan is Mav’s power forward Dirk Nowitzki. Although Nowitzki’s field goal percentage is a solid 14 points below Duncan’s, his rebounding (9.5) is two per game less than Duncan’s and his points per game average is a good 6 points lower (25.3) than his counterpart’s, Nowitzki has led Dallas to a quick series lead.

So, what does Nowitzki do that Duncan can’t? Two things-- shoot accurate three pointers and hit foul shots at an amazing rate! Duncan rarely takes a three, forget about hitting one, while in this series, Nowitzki has been good for about 2 from downtown per game. From the penalty stripe, the Dallas power forward is shooting 93.75% to Duncan’s much lower but respectable 73.81%. Is that the difference?

In game three, Duncan gave a spectacular performance-- hitting for 35 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and forcing three turnovers. Nowitzki, who was injured late in the game, was better than Duncan in rebounds, grabbing 15; but the Mav’s seven-foot power forward was out matched by one in turnovers and eight in points. Still, San Antonio lost the game 104-103.

The difference? Nowitzki was 21 of 24 from the penalty mark, hitting almost 90%. Duncan went 5 for 8 when shooting fouls-- a little better than 60%. Additionally, the Mavs shot 50 foul tries, hitting 78%, while the Spurs only got 32 chances from the penalty line, putting in 68.8%. The final tell of this contest was that with 7.9 seconds left in the game and Nowitzki suffering from a badly twisted ankle, which he got when Duncan fouled him, the Maverick’s power forward hit 2 free throws to give his team the lead and a one-point victory.

In the fourth game of the series, Duncan was once again dominant and Nowitzki was cool at the end of regulation, tying the game by making two free throws and sending the contest into overtime where the Mavs won.

San Antonio, last season’s champs, find themselves one game from being eliminated and being crowned this year’s chumps. If the Spurs come back chances are it will be because of Duncan’s amazing play. If the Mavericks triumph, Nowitzki’s dependable, cool demeanor will have something to do with it.

Whatever happens, look for either Duncan or Nowitzki to be important players in the next series-- power forwarding their team over the top.

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