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16 June 2005

"Even The Cooler Played Better Than Him"

That's a fitting summary of game 3 provided by Matty da Blade. "The Cooler" is the official San Antonio Spurs Blog nickname for Brent Barry; "him" was specifically directed at Manu Ginobili, though it could have applied to everyone except To Nee Pah Kah.

The Sickness was awful. He started the game off with a horrible pass that led to a breakaway dunk by Ben Wallace. During the second Spurs' possession he barrelled into Tayshaun Prince, earning an offensive foul and thigh bruise in the process. The injury forced him to the bench and probably hampered his efforts for the rest of the night (though he'll supposedly be OK for game 4). He shot the ball only 6 times all night and was credited with 6 turnovers (though some of those were due to Nazr's inability to catch the ball).

My last post brought up Bill Simmons question regarding where Manu stands amongst other two guards. Personally, I rank him below at least Kobe and Wade (and maybe others, too). First off, there's a small talent gap. The larger (and more effectual) difference lies in whatever causes Ginobili to play 29 minutes and only shoot the ball 6 times. Maybe it can be attributed to lack of conditioning, unselfishness, playing within the system or not forcing the issue. And I do not doubt his thigh had something to do with it (though, as I've pointed out 71 times before, Manu is always passing up shots, with or without thigh bruises). Detroit also trapped the pick and roll a few times (though not frequently enough to justify 6 shots). The reason behind his timidity is immaterial; the end result is what matters, and the end result is that he's hurting the team.

Manu is the Spurs' best offensive player, and it's not really even that close at this point. He needs to shoot a minimum of 15 times every game. And on nights when Duncan is playing like absolute ass that number needs to be around 25. You could cut off Kobe's leg in the first quarter and he would still find a way to get up 15 shots. At this point, that's what is separating Manu from the upper crust of shooting guards.

Manu sucked, Duncan sucked, the Spurs turned the ball over 18 times and allowed 17 offensive rebounds. It's no surprise they lost. Quick notes:

-Parker played a hell of a game: 21 points on 16 FGA and the only one-on-one threat SA had all night.

-Bowen continued to shoot well from 3: 4-6.

-Mohammed was dreadful and had trouble catching the ball all night. He's getting better at defending the pick and roll and I am excited about his potential. However...

-Rasho played in the first quarter due to Nazr's foul trouble. The Spurs went from down 4 to up 4 while he was on the court. For the playoffs the Spurs are +29 while Rasho's been on the court (100 minutes). The Spurs are +13 when Mohammed is on the court (442 minutes). But I'm sure that's just a coincidence because everybody knows you measure centers by how often they attempt to dunk the ball.

-Duncan had 15 FGA. 3 of them were inside the lane. Conclusion: he sorta played like a weenie.

-The Spurs were outscored 20-4 on the fastbreak. Ouch.

-Richard Hamilton played his first decent game of the series, scoring 24 points but taking 23 FGA to do it. I want him to shoot more.

In 2003-04 I had a Spurs-related mantra: "No stupid fouls, no three-pointers, no bad shots." Against the Pistons I've adjusted it to "Get the rebound, no turnovers, shoot the damn ball Manu." If the Spurs improve in those three areas they'll win tonight and be 48 minutes away from their 3rd title in 7 years.

San Antonio Spurs Blog is not affiliated with the Spurs organization or any major publication.
All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.