When we published Jeff Garcia's post on the "Memorial Day Miracle" vs. the "TD 3" debate, we found there were a variety of answers and a strong case could be made for each shot. During a Project Spurs planning meeting last week, we found even we had a differing opinion, so we present our staff roundtable in hopes of determining which is the biggest shot. You decide in the comments.
Michael De Leon
If we are talking about bigger shot, I think many characteristics define that aside from which was more shocking. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for both games and both were plenty shocking and unexpected. While Tim Duncan doesn't shoot from beyond the arch much, he may as well have been in the shooting stars competition because he was wide open for a three and Tim himself has said his entire career that he has that range. What is more shocking than him knocking that down is that Pop actually drew up a play involving Tim shooting a three.
Some will say Elliott hitting a three is not a big deal because he shot the three his entire career at a good percentage. But what was his percentage of hitting falling out of bounds, tippy-toeing threes with Rasheed Wallace in his face. Elliott's shot also propelled the Spurs past the Blazers and into the Finals, while Duncan's got the Spurs past the first round before an eventual loss to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
And as far as it killing the Suns, when was the last time the Suns got past the Spurs anyway and I believe we are asking which was the bigger shot, not which killed the Suns. I said as soon as the Suns acquired Shaq that I thought it was a terrible trade and that they were going downhill. So a shot that killed a team on its way down or an even more unexpected shot that got the Spurs into their first Finals. They were both amazing, but Elliott's was bigger.
TD's shot was bigger. The title of the post wasn't which shot was "pivotal" but which shot was bigger. If it was then by all means Elliott's shot was bigger. As mentioned in the post, since when was Duncan ever seen as a 3-point threat? He never was. Elliott on the other hand was known to hit the three with regularity and in that game, he was hitting his stroke with some 3-shots made in the fourth quarter.
Duncan's three was unexpected, and it absolutely killed the will of the Suns in the playoffs and the Suns organization. For all the moves the Suns made to beat the Spurs, it was all for nothing.
Sure Elliott's three won the game but Duncan's three was just more crushing to the Suns. Pivotal? No. Bigger? Yes!
Both Tim Duncan’s and Sean Elliot’s three point shots were improbable. Duncan simply does not shoot threes and here he is draining one in one of the greatest playoff games in Spurs history. On the other hand, Elliot’s heels were hovering precariously over the line and Rasheed Wallace was flying at Elliot with his arm stretched as far as possible. While Duncan’s might be more shocking, in the end Elliot’s was bigger because of the postseason outcome. His shot was instrumental in the Spurs’ first championship while Duncan’s came in a season that ultimately ended at the hands of Kobe Bryant. There were other factors that made Elliot’s shot bigger for me. We did not know it at the time, but Elliot was dealing with kidney failure and would have a transplant after the season. Imagine playing with that condition and making the biggest shot of your life. When I encounter two amazing performances or moments, the one that helped the team win a championship, the ultimate goal in sport, will come out on top unless the other moment is just so spectacular that it can’t be denied. Even though Duncan’s shot was amazing and caused my roommate, who hates the NBA, to declare it one of the greatest games he has watched, it cannot overcome the importance of Elliot’s shot to the team in helping it win its first championship.
I realize that this is not the most popular choice, but hear me out. The reason the Tim's shot was bigger than Elliott's is because of the lasting impact it had on the Suns. Tim's shot was the knockout blow to the Phoenix Suns franchise. They are still falling to the mat. Remember, when we played them in '08, they were contenders. Nash, Stoudemire, Shaq, Diaw, Barbosa, Grant Hill, and Raja Bell; this was a team to be reckoned with. This shot in Game 1 sent chills down every one of their spines. They never recovered and the Spurs went on to beat them four games to one. If Tim misses that shot, they steal home-court advantage and the series plays out in a completely different way. If the Suns had beaten the Spurs, maybe they do not trade away Bell, Diaw and Shaq. Maybe we are talking about the Lakers, Spurs, and the Suns right now as the three favorites in the West. We may not have won the title that year, but Tim's shot guaranteed the Suns would not be contenders in the future. And I for one, am very happy about that.