On Sunday night, the San Antonio Spurs will face the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. It will be the last game of the 2012-2013 season, inside the AT&T Center. And if the Spurs want to leave the arena on a positive note, they must win on Sunday.
And it all starts with the man pictured above, Manu Ginobili.
During the Spurs nine days off in between the end of the Western Conference Finals and the beginning of the NBA Finals, Ginobili said that he finally felt healthy. Even went as far to say he was healthier now than he was during training camp. Now just hours away, Spurs fans are wondering if they’re ever going to witness ‘the old Manu’ instead of ‘old Manu.’
It’s not just the NBA Finals though. Ginobili’s production in the playoffs has stayed on par with his regular season averages. But his field goal and three point shooting are both down five percent in the playoffs (43% to 38% and 35% to 30%, respectively). It just gets a lot uglier in the Finals, with Manu shooting just 34% from the field and an unacceptable 19% from three.
Ginobili’s performance is so concerning that everyone’s asked, what’s wrong with Ginobili?
“If I knew that, I would have already fixed it,” retorted Gregg Popovich.
The media went around asking players if they still believed in Manu, and their answers were of course yes. But Parker and Duncan even admitted, Ginobili needs to be more aggressive and score more if the Spurs are to have a chance. Ginobili disagreed saying that his role in the offense is different. He’s a facilitator and doesn’t need to shoulder some of the scoring load.
It’s one thing to be a distributor on offense and it’s another to be passive and lack awareness. Ginobili’s had moments where he’s forgotten how to dribble, made passes that not even Brett Favre would attempt, and thrown up unnecessary shots, praying that they go in.
In short, Manu must play smarter. Instead of playing like the wise athlete he is, he’s looked ancient and senile. And it’s disheartening to watch. Especially if Manu plans on playing one more year, he might want to prove he’s worth signing for another season. The old Manu Ginobili made plays that would make you rip your hair out by wondering how the hell he just did that. But this Manu Ginobili makes you rip your hair out wonder WHY the hell he just did that.
So here are the San Antonio Spurs. Two games away from a fifth NBA championship, and in a situation that even Tim Duncan acknowledged is a must-win. Nobody wants to go back down to Miami trailing this series 3-2. This could very well be the last hurrah for the Spurs.
And now it’s time to go out with a bang. Go Spurs Go.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
Tony Parker – Mario Chalmers
Danny Green – Dwyane Wade
Kawhi Leonard – LeBron James
Tim Duncan – Udonis Haslem
Tiago Splitter – Chris Bosh
Key Bench Players
Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, Gary Neal – Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Norris Cole
Gregg Popovich – Erik Spoelstra
GAME AND BROADCAST INFORMATION
When: Sunday, June 16th, 2013. 7:00 PM Central Time
Where: AT&T Center – San Antonio, Texas
Television: ABC (National) Radio: 1200 AM WOAI (Local)