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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
K-Mart targets Tim
Kenyon Martins attempts to drive past Tim Duncan earlier in the season
Martin (right) on the attack against Duncan
All eyes will be on Jason Kidd and Tim Duncan as New Jersey and San Antonio begin their NBA finals on Wednesday.

However, the Nets' MVP versus the Spurs' two-time NBA MVP is not the match-up that may determine the best-of-seven series.

That is most likely to be between Duncan and New Jersey power forward Kenyon Martin.

While Martin is not ranked among the NBA's defensive best, coach Byron Scott says 'K-Mart' can shut down anyone except perhaps Shaquille O'Neal.

That is one of the reasons the Nets are convinced they can beat San Antonio a year after being swept for the championship by O'Neal and the Lakers.

You can't let him get to those spots where he is most comfortable
Kenyon Martin on Tim Duncan

Kidd is also a big fan of his team-mate, saying: "He enjoys guarding the best player offensively.

"He always has his hands full every time he takes the court. 'K' relies on that challenge."

Despite giving away 3 inches and 30lbs, Martin has the strength to battle Duncan, the athleticism to block his shots and the mental toughness to come back play after play.


During the regular season, the 6ft 9in, 230-pinder, drafted first overall in 2000, was put on Duncan-stopping duty.

Duncan averaged 21 points and 14.5 rebounds as the teams split two games, with each winning at home. He averaged 23.3 points and 12.9 rebounds for the season.

In the finals, Martin plans to pick a zone that he doesn't want Duncan to penetrate. If he does, the Spurs star will have a good chance of turning and banking in a shot.

Martin said: "You can't let him get to those spots where he is most comfortable.

"I'll try to meet him early do my work early, and see how it plays out and stay out of foul trouble so I can stay on the court."

The further Martin can push Duncan out of his comfort zone, the more he can rely on team-mates for help.

The guards can then come off their men quickly and return. It is not exactly a double team but it feels that way.

The Nets, however, are realistic about the extent to which they can restrict Duncan.

Jason Kidd
Kidd was injured in the Nets' Eastern finals win
Kidd said: "You are not going to be able to stop Tim.

"You are going to give up something, but you just don't want to give up a night of having Tim score 40 points and getting 20 rebounds, then everybody feeds off that."

The title-deciding series will be the first time that two former ABA teams have meet in the NBA Finals.

It will be the second finals for both teams. The Spurs beat the New York Knicks in 1999, and Nets were there last year.

The last time the teams played each other in the post-season was 1976, when Julius Erving's Nets beat George Gervin's Spurs in seven games in the ABA semi-finals.

Kidd, who sprained his right ankle in game four of the Eastern finals sweep of Detroit, has recovered well and is set to play.

Links to more US Sport stories


NBA FINALS 2002/03





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