Manu Ginobili vs. the Dallas Mavericks; Or, it’s alright now Manu, anyway you do

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Manu Ginobili’s instincts are true.

The San Antonio Spurs begin their 7-game series against the Dallas Mavericks tonight, and the NBA playoffs couldn’t have a better pairing for its opening round.

The NBA playoffs have produced no fewer than three will-never-forget series in my lifetime. None of them featured Michael Jordan. The 2002 Western Conference Finals, Los Angeles Lakers at the Sacramento Kings. Seven games. The 2009 Eastern Conference first round, Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics. Seven games. And, of course, the 2006 Western Conference Semifinals, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. Seven games.

My mind is on that Spurs-Mavericks series. And, more prominently, I’m thinking a lot about Manu Ginobili’s Game 7 foul on Dirk Nowitzki. That foul prevented the Spurs from winning a championship–the Spurs were, unquestionably, the best team in the league that season, with only one legitimate challenger, the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks won the NBA title that year, and they didn’t.

The Spurs lost Game 7 of that series in overtime. The Mavericks led by 14 at half. But Manu Ginobili uncorked a bottle of brilliance to start the second half and the Spurs came charging back. Ginobili scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half, and he had a number of key defensive sequences. Manu Ginobili willed the Spurs back into the lead, giving the Spurs a three-point advantage after hitting a triple with 32 seconds remaining. It was one of those pull-up-in-transition-I’m-Manu-Ginobili-what-do-I care baskets Ginobili likes to hit in big moment situations.

And then all that Manu moxie betrayed the Spurs. On the following possession, Ginobili fouled Dirk Nowitzki at the hoop for what became a game tying And-1.

Manu Ginobili’s instincts are true. But in this case, the smart play would have been to let Nowitzki score or, at the very least, prevent him from scoring on the shot attempt, sending him to the line for two shots. Had either of those things happened, the Spurs would have likely won the game. Instead, the Mavericks crushed the Spurs in overtime, outscoring them 15-7.

But it’s an easy thing to live with Manu Ginobili’s mistakes. Addle-brained moments come at a ratio of 1:10 to his brilliant ones, and the occasional lapse in judgment is always already forgiven.

Always. He’s Manu Ginobili.

I think the Spurs can beat the Mavericks. The Spurs can win another championship. Here. Now.

And if they do, Manu Ginobili will be their MVP. The time has come to take back the one he let the Mavericks take away.

This is my Spurs-Mavericks preview: All eyes on Manu Ginobili. The Spurs will go as far as he takes them.

  • L-Man

    Ginobili!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Great article and I wholeheartedly agree and remember and look forward to vengeance.

  • pablo

    love it! if the Spurs want to advance they’ll have to start out by beating one of their toughest opponents and rivals (Lakers being the other). no more excuses. yes last year was bad, but if you look at who we had playing Finley was playing 30minutes a game and Mason was a no-show. Now is the time to let their play do the talking. it wont’ be easy, but i do believe teh Spurs can take them.

    going for ring #5.

  • Rip Wiley

    “The Mavericks won the NBA title that year, and they didn’t.”

    Wasn’t it the Heat?

    (Feel free to correct and then delete this comment.)

  • SpurredOn

    @Rip – I think he means they won it by beating the best team in the league, but didn’t since they did not finish the run with the trophy. As we learned, the Mavs were all talent & talk but lacking head & heart. They couldn’t finish unless helped by the opponent or refs (both assisted them in the Spurs series).

    Tim V. – I agree about your series assessments, with an add-on of Bulls-Pacers in ’98. I’ve read that the Celtics-Sixers ECF of 1981 most closely mirrored the Spurs-Mavs of ’06, with the final four games decided by two points or less. That 2006 series was truly incredible; and it caused the league to properly adjust its seeding flaw as the two best teams met in the second round.

  • Rip Wiley

    @SpurredOn

    I can just about see how it could be meant that way, but I read “they” as the Spurs.

    Maybe “The Mavericks [should have] won the NBA title that year, [but] they didn’t”?

    Anyway, in Pop we trust, in Tim we believe, in Manu we wonder.

  • Jim Henderson

    Sorry, but the Spurs are VERY unlikely to win a title this year without a legitimate shot-blocking big next to Duncan, and an overall lack of strong enough “team” defense. Do you guys conveniently forget what won us our championships, and the envy of every other team in the league during our decade of dominance? Our team defense is nowhere near where it was between 1998 and 2007. Hello?!

    Sure, I’ll be rooting for a miracle, but that’s what it will take. And I’m under no illusions to the contrary.

  • Randall

    I’m sorry, but in my mind, that “foul” on Dirk was anything but. I was there, as were many others on this page I’m sure, and I will never forget the way Tim was hacked and harassed down low on the play before Manu’s “mistake.” Then, when Dirk goes to the basket, Manu barely even touched his wrist — if that. That was a terrible, terrible series from a league standpoint, beginning with Stern scheduling Game 1 so, so soon after we had just finished that tough series against Sacramento. We won game 1 but never really recovered, including the loss that had Dirk shooting 25 FT’s to our entire team’s 30 or so. Sure, we should have won it ourselves and it’s no one else’s fault, but honestly, that call was such total crap considering what wasn’t getting called at the other end. And I’ll never forget the way Dirk was magically at the line in every one of their wins with a minute or less on the clock.

    We was robbed.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    The Mavs ‘won’ by beating the Spurs (the Spurs-Mavericks series should have been the real NBA Finals), but then the Mavs choked against the Heat, invalidating all such claims.

  • Rye

    Apparently you have amnesia, because it was Duncan who literally carried the Spurs on his back (with plantar fasciitis) in that game seven.

  • Blentzen

    I STILL BELIEVE!!!!! 2010 THE YEAR OF THE SPURS!!!!! GO SPURS GO!!!!!

  • Don Armand

    The Miami Heat won the NBA Finals that year, period
    Stop the nonsense, the finals were between Dallas and Miami period
    The Spurs didn’t lose to Dallas that year because of Manu’s foul, we lost because Pop elected to try to guard 7ft Nowitzki with 6’6 Bruce Bowen instead of Neterovic and Nazir. I know they both were sucking that series, but Dirk was on fire and would have scored 30 to 40 pts on anyone in the league(he ran out of steam eventually during the finals). At least with another big man next to Duncan, they would have had (at the minimum) more rebounds which would have been a big factor in the end of the game.
    Pop goes the weasel. Which brings us to our coaches first mistake in this years playoffs. Why didnt Tony Parker start last in the first playoff game? Parker is the key to this series, we gave them that game. Dallas is beat-able this year, we could have swept them. Tony could drop 30+ on them I guarantee right now, but he comes off the bench and you take a edge off his confidence and give Dallas a boost mentally. And Hill, who has done a wonderful job this year is hurt, can play less with Tony back. What are we saving Tony for? Oh, the summer so he can go back to France and get broken up before next season. Right, thats Pop logic. Near the end of the regular season Pop should have let Ian play every night next to Duncan until he fouls out, Oh I forgot it too late now its the playoffs and Pop would rather throw away the season than even the possibility of being saved by the guy he has been making an example of for the last couple of years.

  • Ryan

    I still hold that the alleged “foul” on Dork’d layup wasn’t that at all!!! It was majority all ball, and hands are part of the ball! It was a blown call and likely Joey Crawford called it because he’s Kobe’s and Dorks bed buddy.
    SA would’ve finished what Dallas started and COULDN’T finish against Miami. Spurs in 6 this year.

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  • Ian

    The Miami Heat won the NBA Finals that year, period
    Stop the nonsense, the finals were between Dallas and Miami period
    The Spurs didn’t lose to Dallas that year because of Manu’s foul, we lost because Pop elected to try to guard 7ft Nowitzki with 6’6 Bruce Bowen instead of Neterovic and Nazir. I know they both were sucking that series, but Dirk was on fire and would have scored 30 to 40 pts on anyone in the league(he ran out of steam eventually during the finals). At least with another big man next to Duncan, they would have had (at the minimum) more rebounds which would have been a big factor in the end of the game.
    Pop goes the weasel. Which brings us to our coaches first mistake in this years playoffs. Why didnt Tony Parker start last in the first playoff game? Parker is the key to this series, we gave them that game. Dallas is beat-able this year, we could have swept them. Tony could drop 30+ on them I guarantee right now, but he comes off the bench and you take a edge off his confidence and give Dallas a boost mentally. And Hill, who has done a wonderful job this year is hurt, can play less with Tony back. What are we saving Tony for? Oh, the summer so he can go back to France and get broken up before next season. Right, thats Pop logic. Near the end of the regular season Pop should have let Ian play every night next to Duncan until he fouls out, Oh I forgot it too late now its the playoffs and Pop would rather throw away the season than even the possibility of being saved by the guy he has been making an example of for the last couple of years.

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  • William_JD

    I don’t get it with you Spurs fans and Joey Crawford. He handed you game 2 of the 2003 WCF on a silver platter, which is another way of saying he handed you the 2003 NBA title.