If I asked you coming into this series, who would give the Dallas Mavericks the most trouble, who would you have named?
Well, it hasn’t been any of those three.
It’s been the 36-year old from Argentina. You know, the guy who’s always flopping and has the bold spot? You may know him as Manu Ginobili.
19.8 points (48% fg), 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
That’s the damage Ginobili has done to the Mavericks in the four games to this point of this 2-2 series. All increases of his season average of 12.3 points, 3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1 steal.
Those 19.8 points are only second in this series to Monta Ellis, who’s averaging 20.3 points. Also, those 19.8 points are more than what Dirk Nowitzki is averaging this series, which is just 16.0 points per game.
The Mavericks have had no answer for him. Whether he’s spotting up, driving in, or finding the roll man on the pick-n-roll, he’s been everything the San Antonio Spurs need, and everything the Mavericks can’t afford.
In three of the four games this series, Ginobili has scored at least 17 points. In the lone game he didn’t, he finished with just twelve, but had the biggest shot of the game to put the Spurs up two in Game 3 before Vince Carter went into hero-mode.
The Mavericks have shown that they’ll live with Parker and Duncan doing the heavy lifting, but they weren’t prepared for Ginobili to find the fountain of youth.
For the Mavericks to continue to compete in this series, they must find a way to slow down Ginobili. Jae Crowder, Carter, Marion, Monta Ellis, and Devin Harris have taken turns on the lefty, but it’s not just on them. Ginobili does most of his damage in the pick-n-roll, where he has for the most part read the big man perfectly. He’s either gotten to the basket when they come up to high, pulled up for the jumper when they don’t come out enough, or has found the roller when both defenders are on him.
It won’t be an easy task, especially when considering the Mavericks reluctance to leave the 3-pt line to help, but something must be done.
With Rick Carlisle on the sidelines, it’s a given that he’s thinking of the options of slowing down the Mavericks Killer.