The Spurs are making their one and only visit to the Izod Center tonight, as well as their last one ever. Here to talk about the ups and downs of their season is Jesse Blanchard, from the San Antonio Spurs site 48 Minutes of Hell.
NAS: For the first time in a while, the Spurs are figuring to be in the back of the playoffs pack in the Western Conference. Do you think the Spurs are still capable of putting a run together in the postseason? Who are their most favorable first road mach-ups?
There are certainly a lot of if’s attached to any prolonged Spurs playoff run, but there have been signs of hope lately. Heading into the Boston game, the Spurs won were 2-2 in a brutal stretch against some of the best teams, and even the two losses were highly competitive. If, at the beginning of the season, you had said these were the results of that stretch I believe most Spurs fans would be okay with them. Then you factor in that the Spurs are doing this without Tony Parker.
Most of it is pinned on the return to form of Manu Ginobili, who is once again playing like one of the elite playmakers in the NBA. It’s been easy to forget how great Ginobili can be. When he’s on he’s just as dynamic a player as Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade–if slightly less gifted athletically. He can definitely get you a win or two completely on his shoulders in a seven game playoff series.
So, going back to the if’s, IF Manu Ginobili can keep up this level of play, IF Tony Parker returns from his broken hand with rested legs, and IF Tim Duncan can get past his knee issues with the rest afforded between playoff games then, yes, the Spurs could have another run. Though I’m not sure the first round matchup matters, so long as it’s not the Lakers.
NAS: I was personally excited for the Spurs when they acquired Richard Jefferson in the off-season, but his season looks like it’s been a pretty big disappointment. How would you best describe RJ’s season with the Spurs? How has the fanbase responded to his performance?
There’s no other way around it, Richard Jefferson’s performance has been inconsistent and disappointing. Though to be fair, I’m not sure the Spurs have done him any favors in misusing him most of the season. I never viewed Jefferson as a scorer, despite the offensive numbers he put up in New Jersey. He’s great at finishing drives but I’ve not seen him as someone who creates his own driving lanes, most of his moves are simple, straight line drives towards the basket. He’s a motion offense player asked to adjust to the Spurs post up and pick and roll schemes.
To make matters worse, early in the season none of the Spurs big three were capable of drawing double teams consistently so a lot of the time he was catching the ball and asked to operate with both his feet and the defense set at a standstill. Since Ginobili’s resurgence, however, the Spurs have been able to pair Jefferson with someone Kidd-like in their ability to make plays for others and he has played much better as a result.
NAS: One of the big summer FA names that doesn’t get as much press as others is Manu Ginobli. Do you see a scenario where he stays in San Antonio for the long run?
I would be shocked to see the Ginobili in any other jersey besides a Spurs jersey next season. The Spurs simply cannot afford to lose him. If he signs elsewhere, the Spurs are still capped out so it’s not like you can replace him with even half the quality of player. And already some of the season ticket holders are operating under a “no Manu, no renew” policy. He’s currently the Spurs best player and their best draw at the gate. He’s also been quoted as saying he’d like to remain with the Spurs, and I’m sure they want him back, so when those two things are true usually you see a deal worked out.