It carried over.

Two days later his hands where shaking when the ref handed him the ball.

Strange. As ice as he's always been, something – that emotion on his face from Game 4 – took over him.

You could hear people screaming: "Look at him, he don't want it!"

Fear? Pressure? Nerves? Failure? Tim???

His dream was becoming a nightmare Freddy wouldn't even want to be in.

This wasn't him.

As he continuously missed free throws that should have made Game 5 a lot less dramatic than it was, Duncan's legacy took the same type of hit Roy Jones Jr. took from Antonio Tarver. And when he had the chance to win Game 5 in the first 48 minutes with a two-foot tip-in and missed, the other side of Tim Duncan's greatness was exposed.

Which is why Tuesday night was about more than just winning a third NBA championship in six games. This was about quieting voices, removing doubt, silencing demons. All inside of Tim Duncan, all eating away at his being.

This was the one game he had to win. And he didn't.

So what's Tim's excuse gonna be now?

The reality is, he won't need one. Neither will he search for one.

He's too great to let these demons defeat him on the court.

After Game 6, Tim was asked a question: He was asked if he needed to be "more aggressive in getting the ball" late in the game.

These demons, you see, never stop.

"No," he responded. "I will continue to try to be as aggressive as I can. I'm not going to demand the ball, clock it up and make it a whether I score we win or not. We're not going to force feed it. We can't start doing that now, we haven't done that all season."

And all season has come to this.

But beyond the answer was his tone. Probably the same tone that will go through him once he reads this, the same one he will have when he reads other articles and columns. Probably the same tone he'll have if the media refuses to get Game 5 out of its minds and appreciate his greatness in Game 7.

Because that was not Tim Duncan the last two games. That was someone else. Someone that we're not sure Tim Duncan will ever get away from.

But do we blame him for that? Do we blame the best player we know for not winning a game his team won or do we blame him for not winning a game his team lost, against possibly the best backs-against-the-wall team in NBA history?

Are we the demons that will put this all on Tim?

Thursday will tell.

By then Tim Duncan will be demon-free. Freedom, remember? Free throws will be made, tip-ins will fall, teammates will get him the ball. With the game on the line. Another MVP will be his.

Then again, maybe these demons are stronger than we think. Stronger than he realizes.

One game left. To save himself.

Scoop Jackson is an award-winning journalist who has covered sports and culture for more than 15 years. He is a former editor of Slam, XXL, Hoop and Inside Stuff magazines and the author of "Sole Provider: 30 Years of NIKE Basketball," "Battlegrounds: America's Street Poets Called Ballers" and "LeBron James: the Chambers of Fear." He resides in Chicago with his wife and two kids. You can e-mail Scoop here.



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