Heat vs. Spurs: Manu Ginobili Must Step Up in Game 3
Somebody must have forgotten to tell Manu that it's the NBA Finals and he can't walk around the court in a daze. This isn't the regular season anymore.
Ginobili was a black hole offensively. Anytime the ball went his way, he sucked all the momentum from San Antonio. He finished with five points, two rebounds, one assist and a steal. More importantly, he turned the ball over three times.
What the box score doesn't show is what the 35-year-old Argentinian looked like when he was on the court. Ginobili's demeanor was the complete opposite of somebody who's trying to win his fourth NBA title. He was listless and looked as if he couldn't be bothered to exert any sort of effort.
MSG's Alan Hahn brought up a good parallel:
Manu Ginobili looks like a guy who, if there was reason to believe, could be accused of point-shaving. So unnecessarily sloppy.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) June 10, 2013
It was so stunning considering what kind of professional Ginobili is and the kind of desire he's demonstrated in previous playoffs.
Now, nobody is expecting to see the Manu of old who can score 15 points a game and be a beast on the defensive end. He simply can't play at that level over an entire series. Age and injuries have seen to that.
But if the Spurs have any hope of winning the NBA Finals, Manu will have to be much better than he was on Sunday night. He needs to be the great playmaker he's been over the past couple of years, spreading the floor out for his teammates and knocking down the open shots.
On Sunday, Ginobili did nothing like that. It could probably go down as one of the worst performances of his career.
He was not alone, however. It was a night to forget for the entire Big Three as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker only contributed 22 points between them.
Gregg Popovich had no problem calling out his stars, per SportsCenter:
"Tony, Manu and Timmy are the ones that were 10-33. I'm not going to put that on the bench" - Gregg Popovich— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 10, 2013
Danny Green did step up in a big way, and the analysts on ABC had posited he has become the new Manu. To a certain extent, that's probably true. That doesn't let the present Manu off the hook.
The entire playoffs has not been great for Ginobili. Before the Finals, you thought that maybe he was saving himself for the more important games. Now that those games are here, nothing has changed. Rather than being a part of a larger game plan, it's simply Manu not being able to contribute.
Which Spurs star needs to make the biggest improvement from Game 2 to Game 3?
In order to win this series, San Antonio needs maximum effort from their players. The Spurs can't afford to have a guy like Ginobili struggling the way he is. He's still a major contributor for the team, which doesn't have a player like LeBron James who can take over a game.
Parker is one of the best point guards in the NBA, but he needs help.
Maybe if Ginobili had mentally looked to be in Game 2 more, you could excuse him for having such little impact. That wasn't the case, and there needs to be some major changes in terms of his on-court focus.
Game 3 will be pivotal in this series.
If the Spurs can recover and win at home, then Game 2 can be written off as an aberration. If the Heat win, they will have taken back home-court advantage and put all the pressure on San Antonio.
Ginobili needs to wake up from whatever fog he's in and get it together. Otherwise, the San Antonio Spurs don't stand a chance.
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