If Manu Ginobili were a poker player, he’d be classified as a maniac: fearless and unpredictable, courting risk on seemingly every hand and pushing chips into the middle with zero regard to the odds. When it works, the maniac is liable to dominate the entire table. When it doesn’t? You get the past three games of the Finals, in which Ginobili has bottomed out with a total of 17 points and precious little impact as a playmaker or defender. His minus-22.8 net rating in the series — the difference between San Antonio’s offensive and defensive efficiency during his 95 Finals minutes — is the team’s worst by more than double. (He recorded a plus-7.8 in the regular season to rank fifth.) Some of this is by design. The Heat, who tied up the Finals 2-2 with an emphatic 109-93 victory, know what kind of player Ginobili is, and they’ve defended him accordingly. “We’ve been trying to get high hands on his pick-and-rolls,” LeBron James said. “He’s a great passer. When he raises for his threes, we try to get contests. When he drives the lane, we try to get a body in front of him and contest him at the rim. Sometimes you’re lucky, and sometimes you’re in the right position. So it’s been a little bit of both.” And a whole lot of Ginobili, whose playing style — so entertaining to behold when things are going his way — has never lent itself to consistency. That’s been a defining trait throughout his career, even at his best. Now that Ginobili’s body struggles to carry out the marching orders given by his beautiful basketball mind, the tendency to crash and burn is higher than ever. Popovich shrugged his shoulders was asked to assess what’s wrong with Ginobili. “If I knew,” he said, “I would have already fixed it.” But Popovich might as well given his stock answer for most things Ginobili: This is what he does. Only two rounds ago, in a game against Golden State, Popovich joked about trading Ginobili on the spot to offering homemade breakfast within the span of a minute. It was the quintessential Manu moment: A mindless long 3, taken early in the shot clock with the Spurs clinging to a three-point lead late in the second overtime, followed by the buzzer-beating, game-winning 3.
The Ginobili roller coaster falters on
San Antonio Express-News | Jun 15