On Manu’s injury and playoff seeding

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Maybe a coach does know his team best.

Gregg Popovich is always reluctant to play his stars in meaningless games. Injuries happen. Injuries derail seasons.  Injuries suffocate championship hopes. And significant injuries on the last night of the regular season? They’re crushing. In those cases the isolated meaninglessness of a single game retroactively infects everything that came before.

We’ll have to wait until later today to know whether Manu Ginobili’s hyperextended right elbow is a serious injury or not.  But between Ginobili’s hyperextended elbow and the bone bruise Andrew Bynum suffered the night before, one finds immediate sympathy for coaches who’d rather rest their stars during relatively inconsequential games.

It was a bad night for the Spurs.

With their loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Spurs finished with the second best record in the league. If the Spurs meet the league-leading Bulls in the Finals, Chicago will hold homecourt.  The Spurs maintained the best record in the league from the opening week forward.  To lose that which they maintained for 81 games gives a sense of how they finished the season. Less bang, more whimper.

The Spurs begin the playoffs Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm EST. They’ll play the Memphis Grizzlies, whose final two games strongly suggested they were tanking for the privilege of playing the Spurs in the first round, and not the Lakers. The Grizzlies played the Spurs tough in the regular season—Memphis’ frontcourt abused San Antonio in their regular season meetings. The teams split their season series 2-2, but San Antonio was out-rebounded by Memphis in every game. It won’t be an easy series.

If playoff seeding is to be trusted, the Spurs’ route to a championship includes games in Memphis, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles and Chicago.  The Lakers, on the other hand, were fated with the better half of the bracket—they drew a date with New Orleans and a probable series against Dallas. New Orleans limped into the playoffs after David West’s season ending injury and Dallas is simply not playing well. With no disrespect to Hornets or Mavericks fans, the Lakers half of the bracket is a much easier row to hoe.

It’s not the finish or start we expected.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Bry

    @Tim in Surrey. I agree with you about Grant Hill being a good guy and a formerly dominant play. But, I’m baffled about your comment that he has “an upper-class accent”. Are you writing from England? I spent some time there as a kid, and in the UK you definitely have posh and ‘working class’ – as you say – accents. You’re not going to find too much of that around the U.S. Grant Hill just sounds like a normal guy. The US has nowhere the linguistic divisions based on class and region as they do in the U.K. Not even close. Half the Americans you meet (including Grant Hill) you have no idea what part of the country they’re from. Nothing “upper-class” about his accent. In fact, apart from maybe New England old-school aristocrats like the Kennedy, I don’t know of any “upper-class” accent in the USA at all. I think you took a look at his background, and then started to hear something that wasn’t there. There are probably 100 guys in the NBA that sound just like him. You’re right about him growing up elite, though. In this country, you pretty much have a small group of hard-core Duke fans, and then the other 99% of the country….

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Bry

    oops. meant to say “nowhere near” the linguistic disparities. Not “nowhere” linguistic disparities.

  • Ayatollah

    I’m just here to say Go SPURS Go!
    Beat those tankers!

  • Ric

    Good grief, you guys whine more than your players do. Let’s see, your team has the best conference record, more playoff experience, refs that wear your team colors … and you’re crying in your mammy’s milk that the Grizzlies slid to 8th! Unbelievable.

    I hope that Manu recovers because watching him and Tony Allen go at each other will be the single best 1-on-1 match-up in the first round. Parker and Hill will own Conley and the rookie combo of backup guards Also, the Grizzlies aren’t too strong defending the three-point line, so I expect the Spurs will win the series.. But there will be some seriously bruised ribs for your backcourt going into round 2.

    Grit…Grind…Grrrizzzz.

  • austinspur

    Ric. can you explain why y’all would want to tank to face the best team in the nba? I think we are just confused as to why.. the lakers arent that scary

  • ananuri

    @Ric:

    Exactly what you say – we know we will beat you, we just do not want to play you because of your play-style (careless for other players well-being / dirty), with high chance of our players being injured. We still need our players to play many games after you, while your players probably already have vacation reservations starting after these series – THIS is finals for them. I just do not understand why are you so pro-laker – first gifting them Gasol, and now trying to injure our players (as it is clear from your post) and make lakers path easier.

  • jwalt

    Should watch Skip Bayless and Scoop Jackson’s talking point on ESPN right now if you think I’m the only one who thinks Manu’s injury, to quote Bayless, is “a 100 on a 1 to 10 scale.”

  • austinspur

    so do skip bayless and scoop jackson not believe manu and pop or what?

  • ZAKP

    In reply to Tim in Surrey your comment about off the court is very true and your examples are excellent. I remember when detroit played 2 years in the nba finals and then a number of conference in a row. I saw a number of games on tv where coach hubie was talking about how prince was a patience player and that was the reason was able to get his shot off. During the same period before Orlando played lakers he spoke about how dwight howard
    need to be more patience when he got the ball in the low, because he was rushing. By the time Orlando made its run at the finals , he was being patience so his scoring average went up. Are not patience and lack of patience both strengths and weakness affecting that player’s production. Then there is Rasheed Wallace a player who’s lack of emotional selfcontrol caused him the whole time he played ball, to argue with the ref’s constantly even on fouls called on his teammates. So he led the league getting tech’s called against him. In the conference finals against Miami ,Cleveland , and then Boston, in games 6 or 7 in each series he spent a lot of time arguing with the ref’s got tech’s then got frustrated and started performing poorly causing his team to lose those game as well as the series. Another example where character weakness on the part of one player causes a team to lose. Have you not heard that Dallas is soft. It doesn’t mean that dallas plays soft bb it mean that dallas isn’t tough and that they can be pushed around. Is this not a character assesment by the people who play against them. Have you you not heard Pop as well Ginobli say that Neal is unafraid. Is not courage a character strenght. Many players when they first enter the league play timidly and don’t make it . What does that mean? it means that the one with courage will make and the one without it will not. Is this not ones character being put on display for all to see. Life is a test of your character ,only the world will not get to see a persons strenghts and weakness, whether one is a failure or a success is known only to them ,friend and family, But when a person enters compietion they put themselfs
    on a stage for all to see. Then there are players like Vince Carter who during the regular season perform ok
    but when the pressure of the playoffs rolls around he
    consistantly disappeared the whole time he has been in the nba. Why? fear thats why. He lacks the courage to succeed. Life and everything and person can do or will do is a test of that persons strenghts and weakness of character.

  • betsyduncan

    You’d think that as a Cowboys’ fan I would like Calvin’s kid, wouldn’t you? But I don’t.
    Anyway, I am confident that our guys will come ‘loaded for bear’ on Sunday!

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  • Ric

    austinspur, checking the standings at the end of the regular season, looks like the Bulls are the best in the NBA. As for the “tanking” comment, Hollins was resting players that had played injured since Rudy Gay was sidelined back in February. As he said, any of the top three teams in the West will be difficult to beat, so he wanted to go in full strength against whomever they met. By the way, in case you didn’t watch the last two Grizz games, they did compete, just without two/three starters (similar to some late-season Spurs games).

    ananuri, it was watching Gasol the Weaker get manhandled by the likes of Timmy for six years that convinced the Grizzlies back office to move him, freeing up enough cap space to give us Zack, Tony Allen (who you’re about to hate with a passion), Gasol the Stronger, and other teammates. It was commonly known that Memphis was shopping Pau, but no good offers came in. So quit whining, your coach and team do that enough.