On Manu’s injury and playoff seeding

by

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.

  • rob

    ROFL. That was classic Len. Too Funny.

  • Rafael

    @rob
    2009 Spurs had all these 1-2-3 things, and i am not so sure if Coaches are better this season…

  • rj

    bonner and blair……..bleh.

    i think we still win this series. we will be forced to play bigger (splitter) and more physical. i would expect this series to give us some much needed callous toughness going forward.

    come on gino……

    timmy looked fantastic last night.

  • SAJKinBigD

    Does anyone have an official update on Manu’s status? I haven’t been able to find anything.

    I think the Spurs can still win this series without Manu, but it’d be easier with him. This might be a bit of a blessing-in-disguise, if you think about it: Manu gets some extra rest, we move on to the next round and WHAM! Bat-Manu Returns! ;)

    Also, I absolutely LOVED how TD looked last night (aside from FTs – ugh)!

    Finally, I said it earlier – I think Pop has been playing a little shell-game/three-card-monty with the regular season. Look for some changes to who plays when once the ball tips for the Season that Matters!

  • GUESSWHO

    Come on guys! Lets not get all gloom and doom with ginobs injury. All of you guys are talking so much about Parker and Ginobili right? How about talking about that one dude who won us like 4 rings whats his name oh you know that guy…. OH right TIM FREAKING DUNCAN. Duncan’s been a dormant volcano all year. With a lot more rest then hes had in years, in case Manu isn’t available we can at least bare in mind that Duncan could go off at anytime. Everyones saying Duncan hasn’t had very many monster games this year cause we don’t need him to have those anymore. In case Manu’s injury is serious then I believe Duncan can realllyyy step up his game like Kobe in the playoffs.

  • dingo

    http://www.nba.com/spurs/news/ginobili_injury_update_110414

    Sprained right elbow, doubtful game 1.

    Wonder what that means for game 2? Probable?

  • Bruno

    Thank God, right elbow sprain is 7 days max to recover, he will be back in game 2 or 3

  • idahospur

    Pop’s Strategy (since he is so easy to figure out)

    Game 1: Sit Manu and see how the game goes.

    Game 2 (Up 1-0): Rest Manu again.
    Game 2 (Down 0-1): Manu Returns and leads Spurs to victory!

  • junierizzle

    Well doubtful for game 1 sounds better than out for 1st round. That’s for SHIZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

    Rest up Manu.

  • jwalt

    Doesn’t anyone remember the 2008 first round without Manu? Dallas 4-1 and they would have won 9 out of 10.

    Anyone who doesn’t think that Manu isn’t the most important player on this team doesn’t get the sport. We can’t win a title without all 3 of the big 3 being available, but we can’t win squat without Ginobili. He has been THE catalyst for this team for seven years plus now, he has the best +/- score on the team by gobs, he is their “go to guy”, he is the player who improves his play in the playoffs. And perhaps most importantly, he is the player on the team that makes everyone better. One season (can’t remember which but it was recently) the Spurs shot 47% when he was on the floor, 43% when he wasn’t. That’s a HUGE difference. Pop knows all this.

    Duncan has won the team 4 titles? No, Tim and Manu have won the franchise 3 titles.

    Being doubtful for game 1 means the team has an excellent chance of going down in this series.

    Spurs, prove me wrong.

  • rob

    If the Spurs get the Tim Duncan of old instead of an old Tim Duncan … should be nothing to worry about. We’ll see if all the limited minutes during regular season pays off during the playoff run.

    Parker out 2-4 weeks turned into him playing again in 2 days. Ginobili may or may not be able to play the first game depending on how accurate the prognosis may be or how fast he can heal.

    But jwalt’s stats should be a matter of concern for Spur fan if he can’t play. There is no other catalyst on this team like Ginobili.

  • fkj74

    The Grizz wanted us, they got us! Now make em pay. We can beat them at home without Manu, but need him on the road. Still want to see Duncan and Splitter together. Go Spurs!

  • alfahdlan

    It seems Manu will initially come off the bench this series. Hill will have extra motivation to play this series.

    If anything, I like what I see with TD and TP games after their respective injuries this season. Could we see the same with Manu? Looking forward to it.

    The Big Three shift to higher gear during POs concentrating only on one opponent. Pop has always been a good strategist. Why worry? Spurs in 5.

  • Mr. Robinsom

    This is Manu’s right elbow. He is going to play. I have hyperextended my knee and still played I am sure he will find a way.

    He is Bat Manu after all.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Manu is the catalyst but TD is the foundation…….. his Defense is so important, but often over looked……. Without TD we would be somewhere close to the Houston Rockets……..Or the 7th seed like NO Hornets…….. and we would have Zero chance to win……… SO I’m not saying Manu isn’t the player that makes every one better, but I am saying that our Defense is bad now, and w/o TD it would be horrible……. And we would have even less of a chance to win it all……. you can replace much of what Manu gives you as far as points……. It’s his Closer persona that makes him so valuable……… Same for TD….. his ability to hold together a shaky defense can’t be praised enough

  • MSteele

    @jwalt
    It’s hard to compare the merits of Manu and Timmy but I would have to go with Tim on this one. Tim carries the defense and without him we don’t have a low post presence. This team goes as far as Tim can carry them, at least on defensive end. Case in point the 1-5 record when he didn’t play, I know TP or Manu didn’t play against LA & POR but that’s still a 1-3 record without him. I would go as far to say Tim makes everyone better, including Manu.

    Well if Manu is the difference between winning a title and not, Tim is the difference between winning the title and a first round exit.

  • MSteele

    Obviously though we need all three to win it all, with a heavy dose of Hill, Neal, Dyess and anyone else who can help out lol

  • Colin

    jwalt

    It was 2009 first round without Manu. And yes, he is the most important player on the team.

    However, Memphis isn’t Dallas.

  • Colin

    Addendum to previous post: Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan are equally as important to the Spurs..

    I get that Duncan is the “rock” and we might not win a series without him, but we don’t have a puncher’s chance at a championship without any of them.

  • Junierizzle

    The spurs can have guys like Hill and Neal and hell even RJ help out with scoring. But Manu does the little things like get a steal,take a charge, get a rebound or hit a big shot at the end of a close game. He’s one of the best closers in the game. Plus the entire team feeds off his energy.
    Ask the Lakers if they can win without KOBE?

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

    @Kanan +100
    Has everyone forgotten that Memphis is the #8 seed and the Spurs are the #1? What’s wrong with everybody? I just don’t understand the pessimism on this blog sometimes. At the beginning of this season did any of you pick the Spurs to finish higher than the Lakers? Memphis is a very medicore team that has no chance against the Spurs. And Dallas is a lot better than any of you are giving them credit for.
    @ Rafael. I wish there was some way I could organize a humiliating bet for your five points of prediction. Are you saying the Spurs are gonna lose? Seriously? You’re predicting the top-seed Spurs are gonna lose to Memphis, a team that’s never even won a playoff game? Get real.
    @jwalt You’re nuts. Manu could sit this entire series and the Spurs would still be favored, and for good reason (they have the deepest and highest scoring backcourt in the NBA).
    @all the Timmy-doubters. Duncan’s numbers are barely down at all. Defensively, his rpm and bpm are excellent, as always. His shooting percentage is about the same too. So, it just means he’s playing less minutes, and getting less touches (although his assist numbers are great). All that means is he was utilized far less over the regular season. Rumors or his demise are amazingly premature….

  • Mark

    My favorite suggestion is still with what Pop has said: Seed the top 16 from the entire league and do the playoffs. 1 v 16, 2 v 15 and so on.

    I think this would work the best

  • ZAKP

    In the last 12 years the lakers have played in the nba finals 7 times, winning 5 and losing 2. The spurs played 4 times, winning all 4, dallas lost when it played.The score is the west 9 the east 3, with boston, miami, and detroit have one win apiece. This means that there are two dominate teams in the nba, the lakers and spurs. These two teams have the five players with the most winning expeirence in the nba.
    kobe,fischer,duncan,parker, and ginobli have more than
    anyone playing in the east or the west.
    The reason that they do is because they have more fighting dog than the rest of the players in the nba, which is why they have so many rings. Competition is a test of your character and not skill, talent, or knowledge.
    Its the one with the most energy,fighting dog,consistence,emotional selfcontrol, and the ability to take a punch. This is a fight, and one will get hit. These players have shown that they have more of these qualities than everyone in the nba until proven otherwise.
    These have proven the last 12 years that they can defeat
    any team in the nba including each other. Whenever they play each other, its about who has the most dog when they meet , and not the size of the dog, that counts.
    I fully expect the spurs to fight their way to the conference finals ,nba finals and win it all. If the running on fumes all year lakers make the conference finals, the spurs will do its fans proud. The kobe,shaq, and horry lakers won 3 in a row and then lost to the spurs mentioned above. That lakers was a much stronger team ,than the present team ,which already played three years in a row. Their term is over and all will get to view this happen. The lakers are tired and only they can defeat the spurs!!

  • http://www.hyperboreans.com/heterodoxia Oroboros

    Duncan is a shadow of his former GOATPF self, but he will still take advantage of Z-Bo’s pretend defense, and hang fouls on Gasol the Younger. Gasol won’t be able to take advantage of the undersized Blair.

    Tony Parker must be denied entry into the paint, but the Grizz don’t have anyone to deter him, and Gasol is their only shot-blocker. Fergheddabout it.

    R-Jeff and George Hill will step up in Ginobili’s absence during game 1.

    Moreover, speaking about the team in general, you must answer these two things:
    Spurs are #1 in the league in threes (39.8% at 21 per game) and Grizzlies are weak at defending the 3point line (opponents hit 36.9%) which is almost the worst in the league.
    Two, the Spurs get a lot of their offense w/ pick & rolls – Parker/Hill/Ginobili drive & kick out to snipers at the 3 point line. Allen & Battier need to step up here. Moreover, Memphis has been poor at defending the pick & roll, plus they do not close out on the open spot up shooters well.

    Bottom line: Spurs do on offense what Grizzlies don’t do well defending. And I have not mentioned the fact that without Gay, Grizz don’t have enough scoring to make up for this deficit.

  • andy

    Bry
    April 14th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    thank you. someone else with a little more sense and keel to them.

    1. memphis is a great team. let’s recognize that fact and not take them lightly. that said, they are not a championship calibre team, at least not without gay. can they pull of the upset? of course, but the likelihood is very remote, even with manu out.

    2. the spurs start and end with duncan. as much as i love manu (to top it off, my gf was born in his hometown and i’m a lefty), duncan determines how far we’ll go. have none of you been paying attention to how ticked off he is? the “i can double-double anytime” quote not tip you off? he is pissed that people are writing him off, and i have a feeling that with the year they’ve had, he feels this is his chance to take it out in the playoffs. i’m liking our chances.

    3. not to nitpick, but we didn’t have full control of the best record until nov. 22nd, a full month into the season. prior to that we were behind or tied with new orleans for the league lead.

  • ZAKP

    Lakers=5 Spurs=4 Detroit=1 Boston=1 Miami=1
    Miami didnt play LA or the SanAntonio so their win was against weaker comp. Boston only played one of the two dominate teams , plus it was the weaker of the two kobe teams. Detroit played both of them ,plus they played the
    kobe,shaq,horry lakers. Whom they defeated 4 to 1.
    shaq and kobe only won one game! Yet the spurs prevailed. If not for the injurys to parker and ginobli the last three years the lakers would not have played for the nba crown three years in a row.

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

    About the Bonner and Blair panic. Relax. Duncan’s minutes will go up in the post-season logically. McDyess will probably log 20-something minutes per game. Some of the time Pop will also play small-ball (only 1 big man on the floor). Even if Splitter never sets foot on the court (very unlikely) that leaves very little time for Bonner and Blair to be on the court together. And during the brief times they are, it will be against the bench of the opposing team. No need to freak out becuz B&B play a total a five minutes together againsts somebody’s bench.

  • Gomezd

    Havent read through all the comments to see if this has been mentioned but according to manu: “I got hurt during yesterday’s game. MRI showed an elbow sprain (Ulnar collateral ligament). I…’m doubtful 4 sunday. Hope to make it, tho. Luckily, the pain is almost gone. Thx!”

    Doesnt sound serious at all if he thinks he may even play the first game back!

  • ZAKP

    If kobe had been injured two out of the last three years, would the lakers have played 3 nba finals in a row? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The spurs need all three of the big three to win. No one part is more important than the other parts. injuries to parker and ginobli has prevented them from advancing back to the nba final 3 years in a row. The injury to duncan this season caused the 6 game slide which how chicago got home court advantage for the nba finals. These injuries show that if any of them are hurt the team is much weaker. But when healthy these 3 men play as one. They are 4-0 in the nba finals. when healthy not even the lakers have been able to stop them from reaching the nba finals. After the shaq and kobe show,
    came the duncan,parker, and ginobli show. the only reason it stopped. was due to injuries. WELL GUESS WHAT SPURS FANS ? they are not hurt now.
    Iam telling everyone happiness is being a spurs fan.

  • http://sports-glory.com Sports-Glory

    I think the Spurs will win the West. I think it will be the Spurs vs the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

    Feel free to join the site and make a Spurs group. Link is Sports-Glory.

  • Colin

    ZAKP

    “But when healthy these 3 men play as one. They are 4-0 in the nba finals.”

    3-0. Parker and Ginobili were post-’99 championship.

  • Bruno

    Manu from Twitter:
    “MRI showed an elbow sprain (Ulnar collateral ligament). I’m doubtful 4 sunday. Hope to make it. The pain is almost gone. Thx!”

    Good news, looks like he is going to play

  • ZAKP

    For all those who have been second guessing the coach, i have this to say. Pop was in military intelligents and it is very likely he had to read the book “the art of war” in it tells you that the great general shapes the mind of the enemy general. when you are far away you want them to think you are near ,when you are near you want them to think that you are far away. Pop and every spurs fans knows that duncan is getting older. While his skills have not faded, how long he can perform have. Pop changed the style of the team because he had to. what he did was to put duncan in cold storage ,all year long , letting him out only enough to keep him in shape,saving him only for the playoffs, when the tiger will be unleased. Then the starting lineup will get most of the minutes. Then duncan can and will have plenty of double double. So all year the rest of the team had to step to make up for the games where TD was in his resting cage. A very rude awakening awaits the for the talking heads , the western conference teams and all of the negative “what if people who write on this blog

  • hassan

    You guys talk about which player is more important(TD, Manu or TP) but it’s all of them infact. They are a perfect combination of a team like a car… TP the engine of the car, Manu is the Gasoline and TD is the Steering wheel that directs this magnificent machine…

    One reason I like this team is the team mentality that I think will hopefully get us a ring(maybe 2) in this 2-3 year window left with those 3 together…

    N.B. I do fear Memphis some as they have outrebounded us in all games.. Lets see what POP and the players will do about that…hope we do see what Tiago can do in this series….

    .. I am already bumbed though as I have to work on Sunday and will miss the game(will DVR it though…)..

    Drive for 5…Go Spurs Go…

  • Tim in Surrey

    @Mark – The funny thing is, though, that if they had re-seeded the teams for the playoffs, the Spurs would STILL be facing Memphis: 1 – CHI, 2 – SAS, 3 – MIA, 4 – LAL, 5 – DAL, 6 – BOS, 7 – OKC, 8 – ORL, 9 – DEN, 10 – ATL, 11 – POR, 12 – NYK, 13 – NOR, 14 – PHI, 15 – MEM, 16 – IND

    @ZAKP – Sorry, but I’ve never bought into any of that line of thinking. Competition isn’t a test of your character, how much dog you have (interesting turn of phrase, btw), whether you’ve got the right stuff or are worthy to lift Thor’s hammer. That’s just a bunch of crap that coaches try to sell you as a motivational tool. In this case, competition is simply a test of your ability to play basketball as a team. As luck would have it, though, the Spurs are really, really good at that! (If you’re looking for a test of character try raising a child, teaching in a public school, working in an emergency room, serving as Charles Barkley’s maid,… Y’know, something tough.)

  • ChillFAN

    Thanks for the posts everyone. Good points, heres my humble opinions.

    (1) Kenan, Grade21, Bry, Andy. Miss cari and hassan:
    GREAT POINTS, If the focus is a championship, people: stop sweating the playoff seedings and the Griz–you are going to have to play the best to win a championship.

    (2) Hobson13. A seeding “travesty,” are you kidding me? HCA guaranted in the West is a travesty?
    jwalt
    So the Hornets lost a star to injury–that doesnt affect the Spurs in the least. WIth Ariza, CP3, Carl landry and Okafor,the Hornets have just as many weapons as the Griz. There’s no crying in baseball, but apparently some posters need a diaper change. The Lakers aren’t walking to the Finals with this seeding. Not only have both teams played pretty sharp at times this season, more importantly neither the Blazers or Mavs are intimidated by the Lakers. We should be able to handle the OKC/Nuggets winner if we indeed are championship material. OKC is as overhyped as the Heat, the Knicks and Blake Griffin. In the end, the Spurs secretly want the OKC matchup. And we aren’t forced to play a Lakers-Mavs-Blazer caliber team until the WCF. Stop crying and start acting like a Spurs fan.

    (3) Olexity, I thought the DLeague experimented with your very idea of a playoff “draft.” Sounds like fun.

    (4) wyatt and L3ESmith, nice hear from Griz fans. Good points about Memphis toughness and the fact that the Spurs wanted to avoid the Lakers, too. The Spurs usually drop one game in Round One. But lets get real: this Griz team doesn’t have enough weapons to pull off a warriors-Mavs type upset. As Barkley would say: I might be wrong, but I doubt it.

    (5) idahospur, couldnt agree more. It’s playoff time. You know what that means, Bonner. Its time for the Red Rocket disappearing act. Make Roger Mason proud.
    agutierrez: no, Pop actually believes Bonner is not that bad at defense. Its Pops one huge flaw. Just thank God we aren’t playing Dirk this year, cuz Pop thinks Bonner can guard him.

    (6) Jose: uh, no. You dont go full force against the Lakers and risk seeing your best opponent in the second round. Also, because its better try out who from the bench can help against them when it matters.

    (7) betsyduncan, I dont mind NBA conspiracy theories, but you need to work on that one. Hill isnt dirty, did not hurt Ginobilli, especially since Gino plays half the game on the floor anyway. Dude falls the faster than my dead one-legged grandma. The NBA players actually vote on the Sportsmanship award for fair play and integrity. AJ, the Admiral, and even Steve Smith won it as Spurs. No douche has ever won it, no one else has ever even won it twice, but his peers voted Grant Hill three times.

    (8) rob, Duncan has been a shell of himself for the last three years. Face it. Its gonna take everyone on the team bringing the A game to win four against the Lakers. Timmy can win a game for you, but not a series–he aint himself anymore. Just watch him against the PnR.

    (9) ZAKP, you need to get your facts straight if your gonna bring it on this blog. Do some military intelligence of your own and you will see that Shaq and Kobe humilliated a healthy Spurs team in 2001 and 2002. Neither series was close, and the Spurs only won a single game. 2001 was all about Shaq, but Kobe torched us in 2002 making the key baskets in the end of games to seal the victories. Thats what made 2003 so special. Because Shaq and Kobe dropped a three peat in the middle of the “dynasty.”

    (10) Can’t wait to watch Tony and George Hill go off against the Griz. Yup Manu will be their too.

  • Tim in Surrey

    @ChillFAN – Nice save on Grant Hill. I agree with you totally. I’m not a fan of his because he went to Duke, speaks with an upper-class accent, grew up in a mansion owned by his Yale-educated sports legend of a father, or any of that other elitist noise. He just strikes me as a good teammate and someone who gives back a lot of what he gets. I like people like that. And for years I’ve seen him consistently showing good sportsmanship, both when he was on top (with the Pistons, when he was arguably the best perimeter player in the league) and when he was down and out (missing most of three years and losing so much of his celebrated athleticism). In that respect, he’s just like Antonio McDyess, the one Spur that I really admire.

    Actually, getting back to ZAKP’s point about character, perhaps I was hasty. There ARE times when basketball is a test of character. But I don’t think it’s on the court, I think it’s off the court. Imagine being like Hill or Dice and being blessed with as much talent for your sport as anyone who has ever played. Then imagine having it taken away in a series of crushing injuries, each occurring just as you’re healing from the previous one. Imagine three years of it and then being left with only the possibility of struggling for years just to regain a fraction of your former abilities. How would you respond? That, my friend, is a test of character. Grant Hill and Antonio McDyess showed theirs to be the finest kind.

  • Hicksman

    To be called the best you have to beat the best. About the who is more impotant talk it’s simple they are called the BIG 3 not big 1 / 2 but BIG 3 because each of them are soo very important to what the SPURS do. I want to see TP destroy Mike Conely and get Zach n Marc un some foul trouble with drive after drive either of the P n R or sets. RJ needs to be aggressive and attack attack attack with the Griz size up front any chance of 10-15 mins for Splitter??
    SPURS in 6
    GO SPURS GO!!!!!

  • Timmay

    I always wanted Grant Hill as a Spur, his doing on and off the court would have fit perfectly. The year they drafted George Hill (i did not know about that) I remember looking at the updated Spurs roster where it said “G.Hill”. At first I thought it really was Grant Hill … but George is a nice player and a good fit as well (just look at his work in the community …

    Oh … and beat the Grizzlies in max. 5 games!!!

  • rob

    ChillFAN,

    No doubt it’ll take the big 3/entire team to play at their best to get through to the the finals. Point being made about Duncan is warranted as well. Hence limiting his minutes during the regular season so as to have the best Tim Duncan the team can get throughout the playoffs. If Tim is NOT worn out by playoff time like the past 3 years, the hope/plan is he can still produce like an early in the season Tim Duncan without the wear and tear of 35 mpg over 82 games. We’ll see.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    The Spurs seem to be taking it personally that Memphis lost their last 2 games on purpose, so that they could face the Spurs instead of the Lakers.

    Tim Duncan was very outspoken about this fact and that team has a huge chip on their shoulder because even though they won’t admit it, they do watch ESPN, NBA TV, etc. and they see how they are being called the most overrated #1 seed ever.

    This team will look to make a statement on Sunday, with or without Manu and I feel that they will beat the shit out of Memphis.

    L3ESmith, your team had playoff positioning to play for and they tanked the last 2 games to avoid the Lakers. The Spurs had the #1 seed in the West locked up the week before the Lakers and Suns games, so all they were playing for was #1 overall against a potential Bulls Eastern Conference rep.

    In my opinion, the Grizz really screwed up in their selection of the Spurs because they don’t fully get what they have coming on Sunday.

    A team that will be angry that a team purposely dropped in seeding to face them. A team that has the national media disrespecting them. A team that still has to hear ignorant folks talking about how old they are even though they are much younger than most of the field, other than their Big 3.

    If I was Clubber Lang, I would say that I have a prediction for this series……..pain.

    For the Grizzlies.

  • irongiantkc

    I think everbody’s forgetting who the driving force is on this team. It’s not Manu or TP. Like it or not, the six game losing streak demonstrated clearly that the most important player on the Spurs is still Tim Duncan. He is not a shell of himself. Per minute, he is playing almost as well as he ever has. The way Duncan goes, go the Spurs. He’s clearly the best player on the team. All the talk about anybody else on the team other than TP and Manu is pointless. Are the 9th, 10th, and 11th guys on the Lakers, Griz, Nugs, OKC, etc. being discussed? Of course not.

    The only things worth discussing are how we’ll be able to match up with Durant or Z-Bo or Bryant. Who really cares if Steve Blake has the chicken pox? They still have Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum, right?

    I know that we are more of a team, but, really, the game against the Griz will come down to TD and whoever plays next to him against the Griz front court. You watch, the most important players on every team will move to the front and the lesser players will move to the back. That’s OK.

    If it matters how many minutes Blair, Bonner, or Splitter get we will have lost anyway. The key will be the play of TD, TP, and Manu. It’s been that way for eight years. It will be that way this year.

    btw, despite what everyone says, I expect a big playoffs from Bonner. I think we’re going to be pleasantly surprised. Yes, and Neal, too. And Indiana George. And McDyess…Hey, we may not be as bad as some people are saying. We may not have to bite our fingernails about the scintillating Blair/Bonner/Splitter debate. Remember, they just cover the backside of the (still) best power forward of all time.

  • becauseheismanuginobili

    The preparation, the hard work and the grinding season is now over. I believe all the pieces will now come together for a great run in the playoffs. Round 1 against the Grizzlies is going to help the Spurs get into fine post season focus and execution. Manu will get healthy and be back! Coach Pop and the veteran team is hard to beat in a 7 game series. GO SPURS!!!!

  • http://www.hoopnholla.com Mark R

    I cant believe these people who talk of the Spurs being the most over-rated No.1 seed in a long while. How can a team that has a 0.695 regular season win percentage and 0.610 playoff win percentage since the turn of the new millenia be over-rated?

    http://hoopnholla.com/basketball-blog/why-is-san-antonios-new-percussion-not-in-the-nba-championship-discussion/

  • Hobson13

    If the Spurs can get out of the first round in 5 games, then we should be fine. A 5 game series would allow for us to take time in between round 1 and 2 since the Thunder/Nuggs series will probably go 7 games. Lately the Grizz have become a bit overrated and the Spurs have been underrated for most of the year (in most cases entirely written off). Sure they have a big front line, but Pop should have our guards to penetrate and draw fouls much like what we’ve done for the past two games.

    I expect some close games, but the Spurs are just the better team. This will also be a good test for the young guys. They will need all the playoff experience they can get IF we are to play the Lakers in the WCF. Also keep in mind that the playoffs are a different animal because teams can actually prepare to exploit each others weaknesses. You can’t invent such an eloborate game plan in the regular season. Just too many games.

    It will be interesting to see what game plan Pop uses. Will he put major emphasis on stopping Randolph or will he elect to shut down the other 4 players on the court and allow Z-Bo to get his.

    P.S. As a sidenote, I like the Spurs FTA trend. In the past two games they have attempted 24FTs (without the Big 3) and 37FTs against the Suns. Our ability to get to the line will really help us in the playoffs when the game slows down.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    T.V., I love ya but what a turncoat you are!

    Varner:
    The smart money is on the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers will breeze through the opening two rounds, play a tough series against either the Thunder or Spurs, and eventually find themselves in Chicago. The Pacers and Magic should be easy enough for Chicago. And ultimately the sum of the Bulls’ collective parts will outshine Miami’s less than cohesive team attack.

    Come on dude, have some faith that the Spurs will prevail. Jeez!

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Here is something to chew on…..will the soft playoff opponents the Lakers face be of detriment to them if they are to face the Spurs in the WCF?

    Conversely, will the tough playoff opponents the Spurs face be an advantage to them if they are to face the Lakers in the WCF?

    Something to think about……overconfidence is a weakness, just ask the Evil Empire. :)

  • ananuri

    Concern and healthy respect of the opponent is good, but I think that there is too much of it on this board. Grizz are good team, but they are 8th seed for a reason, and we are #1. Wasn’t it this season, the only time we played Grizzlies with Duncan, that Randolph was blocked several times in a raw? Unless Conley plays out of his mind (and how many games can he do it? Maybe once in a series), they do not even have offensive weapons. Their physicality is concern – not for winning the series, but for injuring our players. With the team we have, if we play well, we should beat them even without Manu. Of course everything can happen, but I see them beating us to be very unlikely.

    Concerning OKC – I think that Perkins trade was made mainly for the Lakers, and does not help them as much against us – they have one less offensive weapon (I remember Jeff Green giving us problems). I know he sets excellent screens, but I think on PnR we should just ignore him outside the paint and switch both players on the other guy (Durant / Westbrook).

    Lakers (if they pass Portland / Dallas): everybody says they match well against us, but I do not see it completely this way. Bynum had problems with splitter (in limited minutes splitter played against him), and the only good guard they have is Kobe. I think we should really make him work on defense, so that he is tired by the end of game. Attack paint and attack Bynum to put him in foul trouble (if he is playing well) – Pau was never a good paint defender (see 2008 finals, when Ray Allen was getting at the rim at will. If we only had healthy Manu for WCF that year… ).

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

    I foresee a lot of Dice on Z-Bo to start the series. I remember a motivated Dice giving fits to Dirk last playoffs. I hope he can do the same to one of the biggest thorns in our side. It’s time to wake up old man, the playoffs are here!

  • jwalt

    I agree with TD Best Ever regarding Duncan’s importance to the team, especially defensively. I’ve also said and still firmly believe that Duncan is overrated offensively and vastly underrated defensively. He’s the best help defender in the league.

    But I stand by my comments regarding Manu’s importance. With five minutes left and the score tied, Manu becomes one of the top five players in the league. The same cannot be even closely said of Parker or Duncan.

    Someone mentioned that without Duncan the team is 1-5. Well, without Ginobili available in the second half the team is 0-4.

    Manu has the best career won-loss pct. of any player currently in the league and there is a reason he is number one and not Duncan or Parker. So much of the Spurs confidence lies in the intangibles Manu brings, like taking a big charge, getting the key rebound, etc.

    The Spurs can beat Memphis without Manu. It just changes to “can” from “will”.