One of the toughest matchups San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili and Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden present to the team defending them is their ability to drive to the left and finish at the rim heavily on the left side of the paint.
The media caught up with Serge Ibaka in Oklahoma City on Friday after the Thunder defeated the Spurs on Thursday to end the Spurs’ 20-game winning streak, and Berry Tramel posted the interview with Ibaka, and in the interview Ibaka discussed the challenge of defending Ginobili.
Did you enjoy guarding Manu Ginobili?
Ibaka: “Yes sir, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. I think it’s good for us. They play good, like a team. They screen. It’s kind of hard, but when you switch, one-on-one, it’s hard to stay. But it’s what you got to do.
What did you do to Manu?
Ibaka: “Be ready to contest his 3-point shot and make him drive to his right and be aggressive. Just be ready to move your feet and contest the shot.”
A majority of basketball players are raised to defend right handed players, so when players who make it to the most elite level like Ginobil and Harden become so difficult to defend, the only thing a defender can try to make them do is go to their weak side, the right side.
It’s interesting that Ibaka and the Thunder are trying to limit Ginobili’s path to the left side, and though it may have worked for them, it doesn’t seem to be working for the Spurs as Harden has had three solid games against them so far in the playoffs.
But, if Ginobili has shown anything in his career, it’s that he can exploit any part of the floor a team is either giving him or taking away from him. If Ginobili’s teammate Tony Parker is able to get any penetration on the Thunder tonight, then expect Ginobili to also have success cutting through the Thunder’s defense through any driving lane they’re giving him.