Listening to the conclusion of the Spurs-Suns game on his car radio as he drove home from San Antonio International Airport on Wednesday night made Tim Duncan feel disconnected from the team he captains.

"It was very strange," said the 36-year-old power forward who enters today's playoff opener at the AT&T Center against the Utah Jazz after a season in which his scoring average jumped two full points despite the lightest workload of his 15-year career.

Duncan supported the reasoning behind the decision to send him and the other members of the Spurs' Big Three back to San Antonio after a Wednesday morning practice session in Phoenix: Making certain there would be no repeat of the misfortune that befell Manu Ginobili in the regular season finale a year ago, when he fractured his right elbow.

Duncan appreciated both the caution and the additional days of rest, but now he is ready to spring back into action.

"We're really excited to start the playoffs," he said. "We're excited they are here, and we're excited to get going. Winning games going into this and feeling good about ourselves has got to help."