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The Spurs in Close-Out Games

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The Spurs' dominance of the Western Conference over the last decade hasn't been a good thing for other West teams. Turns out it is a good thing for amateurish bloggers seeking to predict the future. San Antonio has been involved in so many series and so many games (with roughly the "same" team) that we have a decent sample size to work with. How have the Spurs fared in elimination games in the Duncan era? Glad you asked.

2006, WC Semis, Game 5 (trailing 3-1), @ San Antonio, (v. Dallas) WIN

Unable to stop the Mavs' offense all series, the Spurs played some big defense down the stretch to keep their season alive. This was the "Bruce Bowen block" game where he forced a jump ball versus Dirk as the fourth quarter concluded. More notably, Tim Duncan was a monster (36-12) and Tony Parker chipped in 27 (but had 5 turnovers).

2006, WC Semis, Game 6 (trailing 3-2), @ Dallas, WIN

The second of back to back elimination games, SA staved off elimination once more. Jason Terry was suspended for punching Michael Finley in Game 5. Tim Duncan had 24, and 8 and Manu Ginobili picked up for Tony Parker (3-15) by scoring 30.

2006, WC Semis, Game 7 (tied 3-3), @ San Antonio (v. Dallas), LOSS

San Antonio failed to become just the 8th team ever to come back from a 3-1 hole. Despite Duncan's 41 and 15, Parker's 24, and Ginobili's 23, the Spurs fell in OT.

2005 NBA Finals, Game 7 (tied 3-3), @ San Antonio (v. Detroit), WIN

This Finals is frighteningly similar to the current Hornets-Spurs series. For the first four games, the home team won by an average 21 point margin. Then the Robert Horry Game happened (in Detroit, thanks to the 2-3-2 format). Duncan and Ginobili combined for 48 in Game 7 for yet another Spurs' championship. Parker went 3-11 with 8 points.

2004 WC Semis, Game 6 (trailing 3-2), @ Los Angeles, LOSS

Another series that saw the home team win the first 4 with large margins of victory. The Lakers pulled off the roadie in Game 5 and closed the series at home. Duncan was solid (20 and 11) and Ginobili adequate (16, 7, and 4) but Parker delivered 9 on 4 of 18.

Well kids, what have we learned? The Spurs are 3-2 in elimination games (where they can be eliminated) and 2-1 at home (where they'll be tomorrow). Tim Duncan is normally a beast in these games, and Tony Parker has a tendency to disappear. So if we can continue our great defensive work on Timothy and let Tony Parker do what Tony Parker has done... I like our chances.