AT&T Center -- San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili's 2012-13 regular season was mired with injuries. He played in 60 of 82 games and was only able to get 11 minutes on the court in the team's regular season finale in San Antonio. His inconsistent play coupled with his injuries was enough for many to ponder if this might be the end of the road for Manu, as many felt he wasn't the player he once was.
Then Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs versus the Lakers tipped off and when the final buzzer sounded, it was Ginobili receiving the most praise.
Off the bench for San Antonio, Manu scored 18 points, had 2 steals, 2 rebounds and hit crucial three-pointers during the game (3-5 from behind the arch) in 18 efficient minutes to help lead the Spurs to a 91-79 victory over Lakers in Game 1.
"I feel good. I'm very happy that I played the whole game, that I didn't get hurt and that that I scored a little bit," said Ginobili postgame.
And it wasn't just Manu who was happy he saw more time out on the court, so were the other two players who make up the "Big 3."
"He was a huge spark for us. That's what we've always gotten from him. He's worked himself back in to get his minutes back up," said Tim Duncan on Ginobili's play in Game 1. "In the time he's in there, he's real effective he's being real aggressive and he's got his rhythm. He's doing what Manu does."
The third quarter is where Manu put his stamp on the game. He led the Spurs in the third with 10 points, shooting 3-6 from the field, and making two critical three pointers (2-2 from 3-point range).
"He has been here a long time and really knows our system ad tonight he made some timely three's and was our energy off the bench," Parker said about his teammate. "He looked great and was very aggressive. We are going to need that if we want to go far in the playoffs."
The trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined for 53 of the team's 91 points in the game but now the question is - will Manu be able to sustain this play throughout the playoffs?
The two days off before Game 2, and the structured format schedule of the playoffs, will do wonders for Ginobili. Keep in mind, this was just his second game back from the hamstring injury which makes his performance off the bench in Game 1 even more outstanding.
It may be just one game, but Manu's solid play is a good sign not just for his health but for his confidence and the confidence in his teammates to know he is back to do what he does best on the court for the past 11 seasons - bring the energy, passion, and that punch off the bench when the Spurs need it most.
Something Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni is all to weary of.
"Well, that's what he (Manu Ginobili) does and he's good at it."
What's the name of the guy who commented last week that Manu should retire at the end of the season?
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Manu Ginobili will retire as a Spur (just like Robinson did, just like Duncan is gonna do, and probably just like Parker is gonna do later on). End of discussion. I can't believe some people (especially Spurs fans) still think he's not gonna retire as a Spur.
@Emicris I can't believe people wanted to trade him if they could before the playoffs. I didn't know Spurs fans could have such short term memories, Manu was an MVP candidate in 2010-2011!!! How in the world could you possibly think of getting rid of him?
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Will you be OK if walks walks or signs with another team if it means the SAS get a younger, less injured player at his spot?
@JeffProjectSpurs If Manu wants to, I would be disappointed, but ok with his decision (I highly doubt he will not re-sign with us). If the Spurs decline to resign him, I'm sure a mob would march on RC Buford's home of which I would be a willing participant. If Tim Duncan is our brains, Manu is our heart. As UsernameAlvin said, "live and die with Manu."
@JeffProjectSpurs Once in a blue moon player Jeff. Not too many players in this generation are like him. What he has accomplished(and is sttll accomplishing) is irreplaceable. SA will live and die with Manu.
The Spurs best get this opportunity to get him going early, if they cannot win it all this year. There are many teams willing to pay him 10mil/yr which the Spurs will not offer(my assumption is that the Spurs will offer around 20-22 mil for 3 yrs with the final year at his option.) However, there's no saying that Manu MUST stay with the Spurs if he finds better opportunity to win championship as well as better money.