Is it possible the San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan isn't injured as badly as we all feared?
When news of Duncan's ankle sprain first broke, the first timeline was set at roughly 2-3 weeks, with additional time away from the court seen as a possibility once an MRI revealed that the sprain was between a grade one and a grade two.
On Wednesday, MySanAntonio.com reported that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich put an unofficial timeline on Duncan's absence, suggesting that he might miss "four or five games" and sending a reassuring message that Duncan would be ready in time for the playoffs, which begin in roughly one month.
Coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday he expects to have the two-time MVP back in time for the start of the playoffs. “Once he gets back on the court in a couple of days, we’ll be able to tell more,” Popovich said. “But four or five games for sure.”
Asked again before tonight’s game if team doctors had given him any indication Duncan might not be ready for the start of the playoffs, Popovich was adamant. “No, no, no,” he said.If Duncan were to miss five games, he would actually only sit through the rest of March, as the Spurs have a busy week this week, facing the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, the Blazers again on Monday and the Boston Celtics next Thursday. A four-game absence would see Duncan back on the court for the Celtics game on March 31. A five-game absence would set his return for April 1 against the Houston Rockets.
The Spurs, who carried a league-best 57-13 record into Wednesday night action, conclude their regular season schedule on April 13 against the Phoenix Suns. All that really matters for the Spurs is the playoffs, however, and it sounds like Duncan will meet that timeline with plenty of room to spare.