1 San Antonio Spurs vs. 8 Utah Jazz; Spurs win series 4-0 to advance to Conference Semis
Player Spotlight: Manu Ginobli; shooting guard, San Antonio Spurs (50-16)
By Kendell Sweeney-Thomas
A team effort really carried the Spurs into the next round of the 2012 playoffs as they truly showcased the depth of their current squad against the 8-seed Utah Jazz. Ginobli didn’t exactly leave San Antonio or Salt Lake City fans’ mouths agape with superstar numbers, but his ability to come off the bench and influence each game of the sweep with his court vision and hustle was more than apparent. His hustle was more surprising due to his return from injuries to his hand and oblique before the playoffs and Coach Gregg Popovich expertly monitored his minutes as he’s done often in the past.
Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan have been the nucleus of this Spurs team season after season. Now their experience with working in tandem toward championships combines with the depth of size and athleticism filling in around them. Ginobli showed in this series that he trusts in his talented teammates but also has no fear handling the ball on any given possession. The Spurs’ formidable team defense will be essential for battling either of the two high-powered offenses they could face in the upcoming Conference Semis, with Ginobli showcasing his perimeter defense along with Parker as they aim to give all guards the toughest of times for at least four games.
Ginobli’s 2011-2012 statistics: 23.3 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.4 APG, 52.6 FG%, 41.3 3PT%, 87.1 FT%, 0.4 BPG
Ginobli’s Playoff Statistics: 24.8 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 39.4 FG%, 21.4 3PT%, 62.5 FT%, 0.5 BPG
Interesting Stat Line: With help from his many ailments over the shortened regular season, Ginobli only played in six losing games with the Spurs, making his record including the playoffs 32-6.
About last year’s first-round loss and this year’s first-round win, Ginobli said, “It’s always hard when you go home after the first round. But like I said many times, last year the Grizzlies played better than us. When that happens, you can’t do much but shake their hands and congratulate them and get ready for the next season. I think we played better this year. We didn’t let them [the Jazz] get in the game. We played very solid basketball.”