SAN ANTONIO Tim Duncan doesn't expect to see a lot of crazy defensive schemes from New Jersey.
Instead, he expects mostly man-to-man coverage from a player -- Kenyon Martin -- who has Duncan's respect as one of the best defensive big men in the NBA.
"Kenyon is right up there with them. He's got quick feet, his hands are active," Duncan said Saturday. "If there was to be one guy (who defends him best), he would be right up them with them."
The Duncan-Martin matchup will be one of the keys to the NBA Finals, which begins Wednesday night. Martin is the Nets' best rebounder and second-leading scorer, but it's his defense that makes him such a special player.
Martin was able to shut down Boston's Antoine Walker in the second round when New Jersey swept the Celtics, and he more than neutralized Detroit's Ben Wallace in the Eastern Conference finals.
Duncan said he already had reviewed the tapes of New Jersey's two regular-season games against the Spurs, which the teams split. He said the Nets often sent a second defender only halfway over toward him when he received the ball off an entry pass, placing weakside defenders in the passing lanes to try to come up with steals.
"He's really become quite the master at understanding how he's being played," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who expects Martin to be physical with Duncan and try to move him as far away from the basket as possible.
Popovich also predicted that Martin would keep Duncan guessing by playing in front of him, next to him or behind him on different possessions.
The Spurs had another day off Saturday but planned to resume practicing this morning. The Nets, meanwhile, were back on the court in East Rutherford, N.J., trying to stay sharp during their 10-day layoff between games.
Coach Byron Scott said the Spurs presented a different type of challenge than the Nets' previous postseason opponents.
"Milwaukee was a perimeter team and so was Boston. Detroit's inside game was smaller guys, smaller guys we could match up with. Right now, we have to match up against a guy who is going to have an inch or two on everybody who guards him, and they spread the floor out pretty well," Scott said.
Duncan, speaking on a conference call, noted that the Spurs' previous three opponents provided perfect preparation for the Nets and their style of play.
The Phoenix Suns were similar because of their scrappiness and the fact that their offense revolved around a point guard, Stephon Marbury. The Lakers ran a system -- the triangle offense -- that is similar to New Jersey's motion offense, and the Dallas Mavericks employed a helter-skelter system that in some ways resembles what the Nets will try to do.
"I don't know if we could have had three better series to get us ready for New Jersey," Duncan said.
One of the other key matchups will be at point guard, where the Nets' Jason Kidd is matched against 21-year-old Tony Parker.
Popovich said there would be times when he would use small forward Bruce Bowen as the primary defender on Kidd, which would likely lead to Parker defending shooting guard Kerry Kittles and Stephen Jackson being matched against small forward Richard Jefferson.
"Bruce has guarded (point guard, shooting guards and small forwards) in every series we've played. My biggest problem is I can only put him on one guy at a time," Popovich said. "Initially, I'd imagine we'd start out pretty conventionally, though."
Scott said he would not be surprised if the Spurs used Bowen on Kidd, and he said he hadn't made up his mind yet if Kidd would guard Parker or if Kittles would get that call.
He also said he might switch Martin off Duncan defensively if Martin picked up a foul in the first three minutes of a game.
Scott told the Nets to take a day off today, then report back Monday ready to practice and then fly to Texas.
Martin said he would spend part of that downtime studying videotape of Duncan.
"I'll watch tapes of the playoffs to see what people did. But I know what he wants to do, man; I watch basketball all the time," Martin said. "My coaching staff has done a great job preparing me. It's going to be a challenge, but I'm up for it."