On Manu’s injury and playoff seeding
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. Â 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. Â 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. Â The Spurs maintained the best record in the league from the opening week forward. Â 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 theÂ privilegeÂ of playing the Spurs in the first round, and not the Lakers. The Grizzlies played the Spurs tough in the regular seasonâ€”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 aÂ championshipÂ includes games in Memphis, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Â The Lakers, on the other hand, were fated with the better half of the bracketâ€”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.