Bill Schoening: ‘Spurs Successful Because Of Bench’

Tim Duncan may be 39 years old, but he’s been pretty timeless in the San Antonio Spurs’ first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. He has double-doubles in four of the five games – the Spurs won by 27 points in the one game he didn’t – and is averaging 17.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals.

Those are amazing numbers for anyone. But for a 39-year-old? It almost doesn’t seem real.

“Well, you know, it’s funny,” Spurs radio voice Bill Schoening said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I guess I’m spoiled. I’ve been watching him now for 14 years up close and personal and it never gets old, I’ll tell you that. His leadership, really, is what intrigues me the most about the way that he leads this ball club and has for the last 18 years now. The consistency that the Spurs have had of course in his tenure, and of course it goes hand-in-hand with the tenure of Gregg Popovich, has really been unmatched – not just in the NBA, but any sport. They’ve been so consistent through the years, year in and year out. They’re a contender, they always win 50 games – 16 straight years now they’ve won 50 games at least – and they’re always one of these teams that, you might count them out, you might think they’re getting a little bit old, but they stay there. They’re pros. He’s the captain and he’s definitely guy that leads this team.”

The bench hasn’t been bad, either. In fact, Spurs reserves combined for 48 points in 89 minutes in San Antonio’s 111-107 Game 5 win in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Clippers, by comparison, got just 17 points in 51 minutes from their bench.

“That’s the reason why this team has been so successful in recent years – is because of the bench,” Schoening said. “During the course of the regular season, because there are some guys that are in their 30s – like (Manu) Ginobili and (Tony) Parker and Duncan, especially – Gregg Popovich does not want to tax them too much. He wants to keep them right around 30 minutes per game. Now you’ve got 18 other minutes that you’ve got to fill, and you need those guys off the bench that are going to do it that way – and he has done it that way.

“Obviously last year in the Finals, it really came true,” Schoening continued. “When you have guys that play a lot of minutes during the course of the regular season and the playoffs – like, for instance, the Miami Heat did – I think they tend to get a little bit tired come June because they’ve played so many games and played so many minutes. But when you’ve got a good bench and it gives you a lot of minutes throughout the course of the regular season and the playoffs – it’s not like he’s torn up the rotation once the postseason begins – then they’re fresher in those situations where you get into May and June.”

The Spurs can close out the Clippers this Thursday in San Antonio. Tip-off is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET. If victorious, the Spurs would face the Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs.

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