San Antonio Spurs 94, Boston Celtics 73
Given the caliber of the opponent, the margin of victory and where the game was held, I think it’s fair to describe the San Antonio Spurs 94-73 win over the Boston Celtics this evening as the Spurs most dominant win of the season. Tonight’s contest was the last in a grueling five game stretch during which the Spurs managed to go 3-2 against five of the toughest teams in the league. Let’s be honest– that ain’t bad.
The star of tonight’s game was Manu Ginobili. His stat line, although impressive, in no way does justice to the performance he put on this evening. His 28 points were only slightly above par compared to how he has been playing as of late (Yes, he has been averaging nearly that many points-per-game recently). He shot 9-19 from the field and 2-8 from beyond the arc; neither are remarkable. The statistic that accurately captures how unstoppable he was this evening was his plus/minus: +36.
There are so many little things Manu did over the course of the game– tip long rebounds to teammates; force unexpected turnovers; make clever, accurate passes –that, given my affinity for the granular, I’m tempted to focus on this or that forgettable but telling moment. But given how earth-shatteringly awesome two specific plays were (you know the one’s I am referring to), I am going to give into temptation and embrace the spectacle that is el contusion.
Having thoroughly searched both the play-by-play and the box score, I believe the first of these two moments may never have been officially recorded. I’m referring to the fact that Ginobili finished the night with 0 blocks when, in actuality, he blocked Kevin Garnett so viciously that, for a moment, it looked like he may have booked the Big Ticket a one-way trip to the locker room.
I don’t believe Ginobili was assessed a foul on the play; the Celtics retained possession because he was unable to gain control of the ball after the block and it was lost out-of-bounds (also the play-by-play has no record of a shooting foul on Garnett by Ginobili). I assume the scorekeeper neglected to note that Ginobili blocked Garnett with so much force that he threw a man who outweighs him by 50 pounds straight into the ground. That wasn’t just a block; it was a statement.
My other favorite moment (or, more accurately, series of moments) came at the end of the third quarter. After a pair of Paul Pierce free throws, the Spurs were left with 36 seconds to manage. The ball was pushed up the floor quickly, but not sloppily, and Ginobili found George Hill in the corner. Hill sank the three, pushing the lead back up to 14 and ensuring that the Spurs would go into the fourth ahead by double digits. There were 28 seconds left on the clock– just enough time to get a stop and hurry up the floor for a last second shot attempt.
After a stout defensive possession, DeJuan Blair rebounded a missed mid-range jumper by Paul Pierce. Blair fed the ball to a sprinting Ginobili, who passed the half-court line and rose into the air. He hung there for a moment as the milliseconds ticked by, extended his left arm, and banked in a long three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. There were 12 minutes left to be played, but Ginobili had made himself clear: San Antonio was leaving town with this one.
Eleven other Spurs saw the floor during tonight’s game but, in all honesty, I hardly remember how any of them played. (OK, so maybe I remember but a) it’s getting late and b) it’s a rhetorical tool.) All I can remember is the unstoppable whirlwind that was Manu Ginobili.