It was vintage Tim Duncan in the San Antonio Spurs' game 5 win over the Los Angeles Clippers: 21 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. It was the fourth double-double of the series for the 39 year old power forward, the NBA's oldest active player in this year's playoffs.
Duncan's play this series against the much younger and more athletic Clippers' front court lineup of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is further proof of the legacy that Duncan has built. As he chases championship ring number six, it's hard to argue that there's a better power forward in NBA history.
But Duncan has not been the only veteran channeling their younger self in this year's playoffs. Glimpses of youth in some of the most veteran NBA players have been seen in this first round of the playoffs.
In the Wizards' four game sweep over the Toronto Raptors, 37 year old Paul Pierce, who hit too many big shots to count for the Boston Celtics during their many postseason runs, proved that old guns are slow to die. Pierce, an unflappable shooter with an abundance of hubris, shot 57% from the field and 58% from beyond the arc in the first round. In the series opening win in Toronto, Pierce led all scorers with 20 points.
Jason Terry, 37 years old, provided valuable minutes for the Rockets during their first round series win over the Dallas Mavericks, Terry's former team whom he helped win the 2011 NBA championship. In the five games, Terry averaged 8 points while shooting 47% from the field and beyond the arc.
Terry's former teammate, future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, played great despite the Mavericks being bounced from the playoffs. The 36 year old forward averaged a double double in the series; 21.2 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game. More impressive for a player his age is that he averaged 36 minutes per game in the five games series.
While Derrick Rose's return and Jimmy Butler's rising stardom have captured the highlights of the Chicago Bulls versus Milwaukee Bucks series, 34 year old Pau Gasol has played a quietly great series. Gasol, who won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, is having his best playoff series since the 2010 playoffs when the Lakers won the title. He is averaging 15.8 points per game along with 12.6 rebounds per game. His rebounding average is good for fifth this postseason.
Other ten seasons plus veterans such as Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson, Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph, and Wizards' Drew Gooden have made valuable contributions to their teams. As the playoffs go on, expect to watch many of these veterans continue their strong play. For many, this playoffs could be their last chance at a title and they won't take that for granted.
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