Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs need Manu Ginobili to step up or the Miami Heat are going to win their second consecutive title.
While Ginobili has been mired in a disappointing season overall, plenty of unheralded Spurs have stepped up, from Kawhi Leonard to Danny Green to Gary Neal. It's been an admirable display that has the Spurs knotted up with the Heat at two games apiece in the NBA Finals.
But the Spurs won't win the championship without Ginobili, and it's also going to be difficult to win Game 5 if he continues his offensive ineptitude, especially with the Heat currently rolling.
In the playoffs this season, Ginobili is averaging 10.6 points while shooting 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. Against the Heat in the Finals, the 35-year-old is averaging 7.5 points while shooting 35 percent from the floor and 19 percent from downtown. This, coming from a guy who used to be part of San Antonio's "Big Three" (Leonard has now assumed the third spot behind Parker and Tim Duncan).
Ginobili is getting worse and he's dragging the Spurs down with him.
Parker has been spectacular in the playoffs, but asking him to perform at the same level after suffering a hamstring injury in Game 3 is asking for a lot. Even with the other contributions from the rest of San Antonio's cast, the Spurs need Ginobili to at least offer something positive on the hardwood.
The Spurs have been able to keep Miami's offense in check in their two wins in the series, but, the reality is, the Heat are too explosive offensively to keep in check through an entire series.
That was evident when Miami shot 53 percent from the field in its 109-93 win in San Antonio on Thursday. Miami's "Big Three" of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 85 points. Ginobili scored five points.
It's not just that Ginobili is missing shots, mind you. He's put up more than a few errant attempts throughout the playoffs, which is great when they're going in, but foolish when they aren't. Three of Ginobili's five shots on Thursday were from three-point land. He needs to drive to the hoop more—at least then he could possibly draw some fouls.
The Spurs simply need Ginobili to play decent basketball. That shouldn't be too much to ask from a three-time NBA champion.