In Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs' Big Three played some of their worst basketball of the season to date. Tim Duncan struggled to find his shot and Tony Parker had a rough day handling the basketball. But Manu Ginobili was the worst of them all, as he played badly in all areas of the game. Moving forward to Game 3, Ginobili is the player the Spurs need a good game from the most in order to win at home.
In just 18 minutes off the bench in Game 2, Ginobili produced five points on six shots, without getting to the free-throw line. He also dished out just one assist, with three turnovers to boot. Want more? He fouled three times while achieving a dreadful plus-minus of minus-23 during his short stint on the floor. On defense, he had trouble staying with the Heat shooters, who dialed in 10 of 19 three-pointers.
So why is Ginobili's performance so important to the Spurs? Easy—because they win more when he plays an all-around good game.
In the Spurs' three losses this postseason, Ginobili has four total shots from the free-throw line. He also averages 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 27.7 minutes per game.
For comparison's sake, Ginobili has 52 free-throw attempts in the Spurs' 13 wins. He averages 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists. All of this while playing only 25 minutes per game.
Ginobili's shooting has been off for most of the playoffs, but as these statistics show, he really needs to be dominating the game in other ways for the Spurs to win against the defending champions.
Andrew McNeill of the Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell commented on Ginobili's ball-handling during the game:
It's obvious that Ginobili's poor play exasperated him in Game 2, as Chris Sheridan noted:
In Game 3, Ginobili's performance will certainly be a factor to watch. He probably won't play a huge number of minutes (he averages only about 25 this postseason), but if his plus-minus on the court is a positive number, that will be a great sign for the Spurs.
But to get that positive plus-minus, he will have to start handling the ball with precision and facilitating for others like he has done so well throughout the playoffs. If he is shooting well, great. But if not, then he will have to get to the free-throw line and do the other things that he does so well.
A Spurs blogger from Pounding the Rock summed it up best when he said, "Obviously if Ginobili continues to dribble the ball like it's covered in poop we're gonna be in trouble...."
For the Spurs' sake, I hope that ball feels more comfortable for Ginobili in Game 3.
Note: All stats are from ESPN, unless otherwise noted