The San Antonio Spurs had already sewn up their number one seed as the Spurs took on the Phoenix Suns. Then, suddenly, Manu Ginobili came crashing down to the floor after a collision with Grant Hill, and there went Ginobili’s elbow. Broken, just like the Spurs playoff chances last season.
The Spurs ran out of firepower against a Memphis Grizzlies squad that took it to them in six games. Sure, the Spurs made it interesting, and Ginobili heroically played through it, but it was not enough.
This season, it is a similar story, minus the injury. The Spurs once again defied their age and wrapped up the number one seed. With a plethora of potential playoff opponents, San Antonio can only focus on themselves.
The Spurs have one of the best offenses in the league. As my colleague Dave Daniels points out, the Spurs rank second in points per game (103.2), first in field goal percentage and three point percentage (47.7% and 39.9%), and third best in turnovers per game at just 13.5. Individually, no Spurs player has that great of stats.
Parker is putting up some amazing numbers and deserves to be a MVP candidate, but the Spurs offensive abilities still will rely on Manu Ginobili. Ginobili gives them something no other player outside of Parker can do: create shots, turnovers, and play at a high level all the time. Ginobili’s slashing style puts enormous pressure on opposing defenses.
With Ginobili in the lineup, the Spurs are that much better. He comes off the bench, giving them one of the best second units in all of basketball, arguably better than some first units. Ginobili can shoot the three, force turnovers, and create opportunities for teammates.
The Spurs have done an impressive job without Ginobili, but let’s be honest for a second. Without him, the Spurs are marginally better than last year. Even with the addition of Boris Diaw, their lack of skill played big men could hurt them. Tiago Splitter, Diaw, and DeJuan Blair are good but not great players. Kurt Thomas, ala 2009, could only hit baseline jumpers, but his defense kept the Spurs in games. Not so much with these three current players.
If something would happen to Ginobili, the Spurs playoff chances will be directly proportional to his health.
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM