2011 NBA Playoff Predictions: Will Manu Ginobili Injury Cost Spurs First Round?
The 2011 NBA Playoffs are set to begin tomorrow, and many are predicting that the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs will struggle without Manu Ginobili.
The Spurs may have earned the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs, but very few people are predicting that they can reach the NBA Finals. With the Los Angeles Lakers looking for their third straight title, and many projecting the Oklahoma City Thunder to be the dark horse team, few are giving the Spurs much of a chance to represent the west.
They may stand even less of a chance if Manu Ginobili is hurt more than originally feared.
Already, the Spurs guard is expected to miss game one against the Memphis Grizzlies. Ginobili is known as a very tough and durable player. He has been throughout his career. But this elbow injury could alter many portions of his game, thus limiting his effectiveness on the court even after game one on Sunday afternoon.
Tim Griffin of Spurs Nation wonders why Ginobili was even in the game where he suffered the injury.
"The Spurs had hopes of clinching homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory over Phoenix and a successful coin flip," says griffin. "When Chicago pulled out a dramatic comeback over New Jersey shortly before tip-off, it might have been a signal to reconsider playing key players like Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili in the final game of the season."
It is like in the NFL, where many teams sit their top players once they already have everything locked up that is possible. That should have been the case in San Antonio this week.
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But regardless of how effective Ginobili is after the first game, the Spurs will need much more to get past Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies.
The two teams split their season series at a pair of games apiece, although Memphis won the last two games of the season. The Spurs took the first two by an average of 6.5 points per victory, while the Grizzlies took the last two by an average margin of victory of 11.5 points per contest.
Memphis has done an excellent job of figuring out how to play without the services of Rudy Gay, who has been sidelined since February 22nd. Gay was averaging just under 20 points per game when he went down with a season ending dislocated left shoulder.
Randolph has been a double-double machine for the Grizz, but Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo have stepped up their game in the backcourt. Marc Gasol continues to lead the way up front, and Tony Allen's strong defensive play is making the Boston Celtics regret letting him go last offseason.
The Spurs still have stalwarts Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, and Gary Neal has had a major impact on the team this season. Along with Richard Jefferson, George Hill and DeJuan Blair, San Antonio will not go down without a fight.
In the end - with or without Ginobili - I still like the Spurs. It could take them six games to do so, but I still see San Antonio coming out on top against Memphis in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
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