Rethinking Game 1


Perfect hindsight is easy, and it always has the advantage of never being tested against reality. But one wonders if Gregg Popovich didn’t fall victim to his impulse of absolute caution with regard to injury. In other words, what if Manu Ginobili had played in Game 1?

Ginobili wanted to play; Ginobili felt well enough to play. But Gregg Popovich exercised his veto powers. That was that. Ginobili sat.

The Spurs lost Game 1 by three points. It seems like a long time ago, but you recall Shane Battier’s game winning 3, I’m sure. Three points isn’t much to overcome. Two possessions. The Spurs led late, prior to a defenisve collapse that gave way to a 7-0 Memphis run. With a little less than a minute remaining, the Spurs had the game in hand.

If Manu Ginobili had played in Game 1, would the Spurs have been two possessions better than the Grizzlies?

Psychologically, this is a much different series if the Spurs had claimed a victory in the series opener.



  • Chris

    Sorry, guys, I usually love your posts, but this one is pointless.

  • tradeTP…after 2 more rings

    There will be no “rethink” from Gregg. He is showing his worth now that he has a mediocre team facing an uphill battle. = WORTHLESS

  • DorieStreet

    I see no point in rehashing this topic, especially since Ginobili was listed as a game-time decision for game 2.
    So these official team reports/updates regarding his ability to play were bogus?
    Manu was on the floor—and a significant player–in the last minute fisaco @ the Blazers March 25th.
    He also played a role in Saturday’s perplexing end of game 3.
    The Spurs aren’t up 3 games to 1, with the lone lost being in the first game of the series.

  • Rob

    I for one think this is not a pointless article. One does have to wonder in the scheme of a coach making good decisions what has been happening lately.

    The time out NOT called. Player rotations that allow the Grizzlies to abuse the Spurs in the front court. Not playing (though not an improvement in stats compared to Bonner or Blair) but not so diminishing in production that should have kept Tiago Splitter’s height and ability to go to the foul line from playing minutes.

    Popovich has been there many times. He has made great decisions in playoffs past save the small ball theory against Dallas. Especially when the Heat destroyed the Mavs that year using their bigs in the finals. But this hasn’t been an “Oops”. It’s been a series of head scratching moves and decisions that simply has not been the Greg Popovich of old. Which may mean…he is old in the sense that the game and ability to direct a team to the finals might be past his time.

    I’m not sure which window he is looking out…but the one I see is constantly shrinking due to age on this team. With that in mind…it would seem the best options would be laid all out this year to win knowing each year after this the opportunities probably dwindle significantly.

  • Junierizzle

    Of course this article is relevant. This Game changed the series. Just like that home court advantage was gone. Spurs have been playing from behind ever since. Even though SPURS were up 4 they still needed a closer. TP couldn’t do it. Manu was on the bench.

  • este

    Couple the decision not to play Manu with the decision to play the big 3 in Phoenix for the final game. Memphis has not felt any pressure in this whole series and the Spurs look like a team in the torture chamber since game 1.

  • Junierizzle

    I see no point in rehashing the events of a March 25th game.

    And of course it’s reasonable to bring up Manu not playing. At home with Manu they could have won. POP bluffed and the GRIZZ called. This series could just as easily be tied 2-2 with each team holding serve.

  • DorieStreet

    The Spurs have been in this situation before–losing game 1 and HCA in a series and have bounced back to take it 4-1 or 6-2. What is the difference for not accomplishing it this time?
    The majority of the fans that weighed in looked at that we spotted them one (as usual). and from game 2 forward the team will take control of the series.
    The Spurs needed a closer in game 3–Manu was in the game, and had the ball. What was the result?

  • guest

    This is but one of strategic mistakes that are biting back.

    * Making Matt Bonner into an integral part of this team’s offense over the last few years has been a monumental strategic mistake. Pop’s offense depends on him being there and as a result both offense and defense suffer against quality opponents.
    * Not trying to force-integrate Tiago Splitter during the season. Missing the pre-season should not have been an excuse not to play him.
    * Yes, and the game one decision not to play Manu even though he was begging and probably would’ve been no different. There is no throw-away games in the playoffs.
    * Approving Richard Jefferson trade. He’s absolutely the worst finisher in the league despite his jumping ability.

  • DorieStreet

    Many fans stated the Spurs didn’t need Ginobili to win this 1st game at home vs the Grizzlies.
    “We can handle an 8th seed…”

    So in losing this first game the Spurs lost their swagger/mojo/confidence to go up to FedExForum and obtain a split and regain HCA, or even better–win both games there and having tonight’s matchup at the AT&T Center be the closeout game for San Antonio?

  • DorieStreet

    Why should they “look” like a team in the torture chamber after only 1 game? The Spurs had the experience to disregard playoff pressure -all 5 of the starters and 1 of the reserves have been in the NBA Finals. Although it is only Hill’s 3rd and Blairs 2nd go ’round, respectively, it was more than anyone on the Grizzlies squad sans Battier and Allen.

    I can buy the game 1 loss as a temporary shock, the proverbial “punch in the mouth”, but not a crippling blow that would render this team incapable snatching momentum back and go on to win more than one game.

    Unless–Memphis was the better prepared playoff team, and thus the better team this series.

  • Crbr50

    the spurs are history gone

  • Crbr50

    the spurs are old and slow. pop has been blessed with d robinson and great players. he cant couch little league now. his present team is floudering like a fish out of water. lets get some young players like gary neal and splitter in the game.opop should retire b 4 he is run out of town. no time out?pull all ur starters in the 4/?????????????

  • Len

    All this jawboning is pointless. The Spurs are not good enough anymore. I hope everyone has fun tonight rather than stressing out. Everyone should be getting drunk like they are at a wake and remembering the good times.

    I truly hope I am wrong but I doubt it.

  • Len

    I also think that G. Hill is getting a free pass this postseason. He has lost his focus on the court a bunch of times. I’m beginning to think that he’s just not a gamer out there.

  • TD BestEVER

    I agree Manu not playing in game 1 had NOTHING to do with this outcome….. We still should have won that game……..POP was being out coached and didn’t adjust his game plan at all………TD only had 3 shots in the 2nd half…….plus having Manu generally means that TP/IndyG don’t shoot as many FT”s as they did……SO it still evens out…………..

  • Len

    The Spurs showed the heart of a champion tonight. I couldn’t be more glad that I was wrong. If anything can turn the tide in a series, game 5’s comeback is it.

  • Aztekkthundergod

    I am sure the Spurs win game one if Ginobili plays, but ah well.

  • grego

    Maybe, maybe not. There are not guarantees. Spurs played good enough to win game 2, but even then a lot of their weaknesses were present then. They barely eeeked it out.