For the first three quarters on game four we were on the verge of potentially the greatest NBA Finals game of all time. Spurs would get a 10 point lead, Miami would roar back to take the lead and extend it to double digits, Spurs would land a haymaker (make a few threes) and take the lead back. Entering that third quarter the game was all tied up at 49-49, the Heat jabbed their way to a five point lead by the end of the quarter thanks to a resurgent Dwyane Wade (scored 32), LeBron James scored 33, Chris Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Some of the things that lead to this was Boris Diaw inexplicably was guarding Wade for most of the third. Kawhi Leonard was so off on his defensive rotations. He just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He allowed four layups, a dunk and two Wade mid-range jumpers on rotations and switches that he just plain missed. Gregg Popovich could have brought this up in a few timeouts, but if he did, Leonard apparently was not listening. Usually if you don't listen to Pop you find yourself on the bench for a long time and Leonard was on the floor for nine and a half minutes of the third quarter.
Tony Parker was of course injured. His hamstring was not right coming out of halftime and he could not contribute in the second half. Parker was 0-3 in the third quarter with two assists and a rebound in almost ten minutes of play (9:48 to be exact). Parker was 0-1 in the fourth with a single assist in just about four minutes of play.
Then there was Manu Ginobili. Ginobili was 1-5 for the whole game, scoring a total of five points. He did however contribute with two assists, two rebounds and four personal fouls in 26 minutes. Fortunately for any Spur who played more than 15 minutes he had the least amount of turnovers. Unfortunately he was a -22 in +/- and had a defensive efficiency that would have made Charlie Villanueva blush.
I hate to be "that" guy who announces when a player is done, but there are just times when you have to pull the plug.
Manu is done.
In a recent ESPN Radio interview with Mike Tirico, Manu told Mike and Marc Stein that he was physically fine, no injuries and his body was fresh.
For a 36 year old it happens though.
I don't know if Manu has one more game left in him, if he does the Spurs need it tonight. Parker is not Parker, Gary Neal and Danny Green are not going to combine for 59 points while shooting 92% from three again and Tim Duncan has played a total of 57,790 minutes in his NBA career. To put the Duncan minutes in perspective that's a little more than 40 days total.
The Spurs need Manu to pull everything he can possible tonight. If the Spurs lose game five, I really don't think they win game six.
This could be the last stand of the Spurs. Manu needs to channel his inner James Bowie and William B. Travis, give everything he possibly can in these last three games. He just needs to give Spurs 90 more minutes of solid basketball and then he can retire.
These 90 minutes are his swan song. These 90 minutes are going to be what the "what have you done for me lately" culture is going to mostly remember him by.