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