Are Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili the best playoff trio for the Spurs?


(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

San Antonio, which had the NBA’s best record, is moving on to the Western Conference finals after dispatching the Portland Trail Blazers in five games.

“Glad that’s over,.” said Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich. “Those guys are hard to guard. [The Trail Blazers] have got a bright future. We feel great about being able to move forward.”

It’s the third straight conference finals appearance for the Spurs, who lost to the Miami Heat in seven games in last season’s NBA Finals. Much of that success is in large part to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker (who left Game 5 with a hamstring injury) and Manu Ginobili.

That’s some elite company, however, the Parker/Ginobili/Duncan trio hasn’t always been the best performing threesome for the Spurs in the playoffs. In fact, the best net points per 48 minutes they had was during the 2011 playoff run (minus-0.5) which saw them lose in the first round at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.

San Antonio’s best performing postseason trio since 2002-03 (Ginobili’s rookie season) was when Duncan and Parker were paired with shooting guard Danny Green in 2012 . During that season, which ended with a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder  in the Western Conference finals, those three were a plus-25 in points per 48 minutes and had an Effective Field Goal Percentage advantage of plus-13.6 percent over their opponents.

San Antonio Trio in Playoffs Season Minutes Played Together Net Points per 48 minutes
T. Duncan | D. Green | T. Parker 2011-12 230.6 25.0
T. Duncan | M. Ginobili | S. Jackson 2002-03 282.1 23.6
T. Duncan | M. Ginobili | R. Horry 2004-05 290.9 20.6
T. Duncan | M. Finley | M. Ginobili 2005-06 203.2 13.9
K. Leonard | T. Parker | T. Splitter 2013-14 205.4 13.1
M. Ginobili | K. Leonard | T. Parker 2012-13 269.5 13.0
T. Duncan | F. Oberto | T. Parker 2006-07 224 12.4
T. Duncan | M. Finley | T. Parker 2007-08 264.9 2.4
T. Duncan | M. Ginobili | R. Jefferson 2009-10 211.4 2.3
T. Duncan | M. Ginobili | T. Parker 2010-11 101.9 -0.5
B. Bowen | T. Duncan | T. Parker 2003-04 237.8 -3.8
T. Duncan | M. Finley | T. Parker 2008-09 123.3 -4.3

This postseason, the best trio has been Kawhi Leonard paired with Parker and Tiago Splitter (plus-13.1 points per 48 minutes) while Duncan/Parker/Ginobili has managed to be plus-8.0.

San Antonio Trio in 2014 Playoffs Minutes Played Together Net Points per 48 minutes
K. Leonard | T. Parker | T. Splitter 205.4 13.1
T. Duncan | K. Leonard | T. Splitter 190.1 11.6
T. Duncan | K. Leonard | T. Parker 270.7 9.6
T. Duncan | M. Ginobili | T. Parker 150.9 8.0
T. Duncan | T. Parker | T. Splitter 208.4 6.9
Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced statistics for all sports and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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