After sweeping the Lakers in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, your San Antonio Spurs salvaged a sloppy game with heroic antics from Manu Ginobili.
Though the San Antonio Spurs will always have their memories of the 2013 NBA Playoffs tainted, it was a great time for the historic franchise up until Game Six of the Finals. San Antonio went 12-2 in the first three rounds of the playoffs, putting together a historic run for what’s becoming one of the most underrated teams of the last decade.
Sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the first-round certainly played a part in their momentum, but one iconic shot by the legendary Manu Ginobili set itself apart by propelling San Antonio to a new level of glory.
The first round was a piece of cake for the No. 1 seeded Spurs, but the second round posed a new set of problems. By this point, historic point guard Stephen Curry has arrived as one of the most daunting players in the league and San Antonio truly had no answer for him. Though still a capable on-ball defender in the heat of the moment and a spirited competitor, franchise point guard Tony Parker couldn’t keep up with the shifty sharpshooter as he sliced and diced everything in his way.
To make matters worse, franchise star Tim Duncan battled a stomach bug in this game, limiting him to 34 minutes. He was forced to exit the game multiple times to run back to the bathroom and missed a good chunk of the fourth quarter and both overtimes.
In the first quarter, Curry fought some crippling jitters that forced him into four turnovers and mediocre 2-for-6 shooting. Spurs shooting guard Danny Green did a great job of forcing him into some truly uncomfortable positions, pestering the ball handler and blocking his view from passes and shots.
It didn’t really matter because San Antonio started the game making just one shot on nine attempts – a three-pointer by Green that left them at a three-point deficit after the first quarter of play. They made up for this in the second, outscoring the Warriors by one point and keeping the game close entering the half.
San Antonio dealt with a completely different Steph in the third quarter. The firey guard scored 22 points in the period including 14 consecutive points to extend his team’s lead to 18 late in the third quarter. Though San Antonio had a balanced plan of attack, scoring 31 in the quarter, they simply had no answer for Steph’s shooting display. This was considered by many to be the coming-out party for an All-Time great player.
Meanwhile, Parker, Ginobili and a spry, young Kawhi Leonard did their best to put an inexperienced Klay Thompson in a difficult position with a handful of fouls heading into the final period of play. Thompson’s defense was pivotal in shutting down Ginobili’s many attempts, forcing him into a low field goal percentage despite dishing out masterful assists all along.
San Antonio entered the final quarter determined to wreak havoc on their opponent, going on an 18-2 run in the final four minutes of play to tie the game up and go to overtime. After giving up a clutch mid-range jumper to veteran point guard Jarrett Jack with 29 seconds left, head coach Gregg Popovich devised a master plan to tie the game up.
After crossing halfcourt, the team ran some motion to get the ball in Ginobili’s hands at the top of the three-point line. Meanwhile, they ran action under the basket, faking a cut by Kawhi to get Green to curl off a well-placed screen by Boris Diaw, opening the three-point specialist up for the game-tying shot.
The overtime period was a stalemate with both sides chipping in nine points as the Spurs continued masterfully zipping the ball around and finding each other for shots. Curry continued his dominance and the game entered double-overtime, where the Spurs struggled to maintain their levelheadedness.
After chipping away all game, the Spurs found themselves trailing by one point with 3.4 seconds remaining in double-overtime. Manu had shot 4-of-19 up to that point and an abysmal 1-of-8 from beyond the arc, but the team had no problem finding him when push came to shove.
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San Antonio ran a play in which Ginobili and Diaw fake screens to make it seem like the ball was going to TP9. This drew both Jack and an inexperienced Harrison Barnes toward the inbounder, Leonard, and Parker alike. As Diaw drew Kent Bazemore to the basket, leaving Manu wide open on the wing for a three-pointer. Kawhi rocketed the pass to Ginobili, who drained the triple with 1.2 seconds left in the second overtime.
The Spurs escaped Game One with a victory, and Manu’s woes were instantly forgiven as the Alamo City erupted in celebration after the heart of their team did what he does best: Make influential plays.
Ginobili neared a triple-double despite his poor shooting with 16 points, 11 dimes and seven rebounds. Parker also neared a triple-double with a team-high 28 points in addition to eight boards and eight assists. Green had 22 with three steals and two blocks, Leonard had 18 points on 63.6 percent shooting and Timmy, even in his sickness, notched a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double.
This wasn’t a pretty game for either team between poor shooting stints, defensive lapses, turnovers and foul issues. However, it was a testament to the competitive will of one Dynasty nearing its end and one approaching its rise.