Greatest Finals performances: No. 3

Editor's note: We're ranking the best Finals performances since the NBA-ABA merger.


3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio, 2003

The single most underrated Finals performance of all time, hands down, belongs to Duncan in 2003.

Relatively few viewers saw it because of the Spurs-Nets pairing, and because of the general consensus that the East was something of a minor league. But Duncan was unbelievable.

Despite going up against two top-notch defensive players in Kenyon Martin and Dikembe Mutombo, and despite lacking a superstar teammate to deflect attention (Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were just getting their feet wet, while David Robinson was on his way out), Duncan completely dominated. His averages of 24.2 points, 17.0 boards and 5.3 assists were impressive enough, but what really sealed the deal was his defense.

Duncan averaged 5.3 blocks per game for the series, the most of any player since the merger, and was at his best in the clinching Game 6 as San Antonio rallied from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit. He fell two blocks shy of a quadruple-double and forced the Nets' Martin into a 3-for-23 disaster from the floor. Overall, his 32.0 PER for the series is the second-best since the merger.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.

Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com contributed research to this list.