Now is probably not the best time to be commenting on basketball players' overall IQs (although Tim Duncan DID graduate in four years from Wake Forest). Now is the time to go on the court and show what you got.
The Playoffs are a grueling challenge for every player. Your weaknesses are exposed more and more as the teams get better and better deeper in the Playoffs and your opponents takes away what you want to do most. At least, that is what the good teams and players do. The trick is to be able to do all those things still and challenge defenders to actually stop you.
There is a wide experience gap between Tim Duncan and Andrew Bynum. A W I D E experience gap in terms of championships, experience and savvy. So what Kendrick Perkins said following his Game One matchup, his first postseason battle with the "Big Fundamental," should not be too surprising.
So after defending Bynum and Duncan, Perkins would be the best to compare the differences between the two bigs and Perk gets right down to the point - Duncan is a smarter player.
Perk was asked what the difference is between defending Tim Duncan and Andrew Bynum. “Well, Duncan is smart,” he said.
Ouch Perk but then again, it was kind of an obvious observation.
(h/t Jeff Garcia of Project Spurs)
Again, nothing ground-breaking that Duncan plays a much more cerebral and patient game than Bynum. That comes with experience and with their natural proclivities and levels of play.
Perkins is one of the best post defenders in the NBA, but Duncan has given him a much different problem than the centers Perkins guarded to make a name for himself -- namely the brute force that is Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum. Duncan has looked pretty young against Perkins through two games.
Tim Duncan is averaging only 13.5 points per game and he followed up a 6-for-15 performance in Game One with a woeful 2-for-11 shooting performance in Game Two. This is not the Tim Duncan of the early 2000s, that is for sure. But Duncan still impacts the game in plenty of other ways. He is still a viable option on pick and rolls and with Perkins unwillingness to leave Duncan on the roll and his struggles to close out Tony Parker, this has created space for Parker to dominate. His series is statistically much better than Duncan's.
Duncan might have been 2 for 11 from the floor Tuesday night, but he added six assists. Proving that he is still a surgeon with the basketball and able to get the ball moving. Only the coaches, I guess, have how many hockey assists Duncan came up with in Games One and Two.
It is hard to argue that Andrew Bynum does much more than score when he is on offense. This is where "smart" comes in. Bynum does not have the greatest basketball IQ, and even if he did, his passing ability is nowhere near as good as Duncan's. So Perkins has to play Duncan and Bynum completely differently.
In the Thunder's five-game series win over the Lakers, Bynum ended up averaging 16.6 points per game and 15.8 points per 36 minutes. In the Playoffs, Bynum scored only 12.5 points per 36 minutes with Perkins on the court according to the NBA.com StatsCube, far below his season average and below his average against the Thunder overall. In addition, Bynum's field goal percentage was a paltry (for a center) 38 percent and Bynum was -8.1 per 36 minutes when he shared the floor with Perkins.
The regular season numbers were not much better, with Perkins on the floor, Bynum averaged 14.7 points per 36 minutes and shot 42 percent from the floor while posting a horrendous -10.5 per 36 minutes.
Those are not good marks in many minutes going up directly against Perkins.
Duncan's numbers against Perkins?
In two Playoff games, Duncan's scoring is significantly down to 13.8 points per 36 minutes with Perkins on the floor and Duncan is shooting 35 percent from the floor. However, the Spurs are +13.8 per 36 minutes when Duncan is on the floor with Perkins (amazingly, this is still below Duncan's playoff average). More than that, Duncan does a lot of other things to support his team. He is right on his season average with 3.5 assists per 36 minutes when sharing the floor with Perkins and, more impressively, he is out-muscling Perkins for rebounds with 11.8 per 36 minutes.
In the regular season, Duncan posted 16.9 points per 36 minutes, 14.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, 2.1 assists per 36 minutes and a +10.6 per 36 minutes when sharing the floor with Perkins.
Perkins might be able to slow Duncan's scoring down, but he cannot shut him down the same way that he could Bynum, a player whose only value with the ball seems to be trying to score.
This is what makes Duncan a "smarter" player. Duncan knows, for the most part, he will struggle to score against good defenders like Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. And so he makes them think by out-thinking them and using his versatility and ability to pass and get others involve to free the team up and, eventually, get himself involved.
This thinking man's game has Perkins on his heels and, seeminly, out of the fourth quarter lineup right now. Be sure though that the chess match will continue when the Spurs and Thunder pick things up again tomorrow.
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