Spurs Beginning to Gel, The Return Of Manu: A Coincidence?

D. R. PedrazaCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2010

BOSTON - FEBRUARY 08:  Manu Ginobili #20 of San Antonio Spurs goes up for two as Kendrick Perkins  #43 of the Boston Celtics on February 8, 2009 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Spurs defeated the Celtics 105-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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It is no surprise to Spurs fans that head coach Greg Popovich was less than happy with French star Tony Parker playing in the European Championships; as his ankle rolled, so did the Spurs season. 

But Parker busted his butt, worked hard and rebounded until his latest injury after which Spurs fans and the city were left deflated.  One person wasn't.

Enter George Hill.  Hill an IUPUI product, who is averaging 12.3 ppg and 2.8 assists, took it upon himself to take advantage of what the basketball Gods have given him; a clear path to run a championship caliber team.  To his credit, Hill had already been playing good basketball. 

Over the last few games, it has edged ever so slightly into the great category.  Teams don't know how to defend him.  If they play up on him, his first step is fast enough to burn the best NBA defenders.  If they lay off of him, he can drop a jump shot from various spots on the floor.

With the schedule the Spurs are now burning through in March, Hill has gotten some much needed experience against the best the NBA has to offer. Nine wins and four losses later and the Spurs look like contenders once again.  Though they faded in the third quarter against the Lakers on March 24th, over the last eight quarters of basketball, the Spurs have been taking it to their opponents.

Manu is back, but is he back to stay?

Spurs fans have watched as the Argentinean acrobat Manu Ginobili has doggedly pursued his return to form (did you see that one-handed three point shot at the buzzer against the Celtics?). His agent, Herb Rudoy, is hoping that the Spurs are now ready to reopen contract negotiations and looks to be hearing from Spurs President RC Buford this week. 

Buford should sew this deal up quickly upon his return from Europe and keep Manu in a Spurs uniform until he retires. 

There are going to be a lot of teams with a lot of money after this season and a number of teams see Manu as that one piece that will put them over the top . . . just like we do.

Schedule unfriendly

The chase to the end of the season is on with only ten games remaining.  For the Spurs, 8 of those 10 games are against winning teams with the next four; Nets, Rockets, Magic and Lakers coming in a seven-day stretch.  That's a tough bill for any team much less one of the oldest in the NBA but the Spurs are capable of winning against (and losing to) every one of them.  If Hill continues to grow as he has shown and Manu continues to dazzle, the NBA may have two "serious contenders" coming out of the great State of Texas.

What are your thoughts Spurs fans?  Does the team have a shot to get back to the Western Conference Finals?  The Championships?  Let's hear your opinion.