Ginobili’s Second Round Struggles: Should The Spurs Be Worried?


Another year. Another deep playoff run. Another post on Manu Ginobili struggling in the postseason.

It’s a narrative that’s starting to gain more traction the later the season continues on. After a wonderful first round series versus the Mavericks where Ginobili averaged 17.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists, all while shooting 45% from the field and 38% from beyond the arch, Manu’s looked more old than vintage in this second round. Or at least that’s how the statistics seem.

In the three semifinal games versus the Trail Blazers, Ginobili is averaging just 10.7 points to go with 4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. While the rebounds and assists numbers are still there, Manu’s shooting percentages have been absolutely abysmal, shooting 28% on field goals and 22% on three’s. The only thing helping out his point totals, is his perfect free throw percentage through 12 attempts in this series.

So what’s happened to Manu? After arguably being the difference maker in seven games versus the Mavericks, is Ginobili just gassed or is Portland presenting a bigger matchup problem that the statistics don’t show?

Looking at Ginobili’s Game 2 production, his 16-4-5-3 stat line is what we’ve come to hope and expect for the sixth man, but shooting 7/18 from the field is another story. Though all players are prone to dreadful shooting nights like that, it’s really the different defenders Portland is throwing Manu’s way. Out of the seven made field goals in Game 2, six of them came with Damian Lillard (who has mastered the art of matador defense) as the initial defender on Ginobili. The seventh field goal was a wide open three that Nic Batum halfheartedly contested.

But while his shooting struggles, Ginobili continues to make the most out of his time on the floor. Whether it’s setting up and distributing for others or making a swipe at the ball on defense. Project Spurs very own, Paul Garcia, had these statistical comparisons of the Spurs rotation from Round 1 and Round 2.

Not only has Manu double his +/- rating from Round 1 to Round 2, but San Antonio is a +14.3 (!!!) with Ginobili on the floor, more than half a point better than Tony Parker’s Plus/minus rating in this series. And if that isn’t enough to convince you that Manu’s struggles are strictly matchup related, in 266 playoff minutes on the court, the Spurs offensive rating is +15.2 with Ginobili in the game. With Manu on the bench, the Spurs have an offensive rating of -0.8.

So should Spurs fans worry about Manu’s potential performance in the Western Conference Finals? It all just depends on the opponent. San Antonio went 2-1 versus the Clippers this season with Ginobili averaging 13.3 points and 3.7 assists, while shooting almost 60% from the field in those games. Against the Thunder…well, that’s a different story. Oklahoma City swept the season series against San Antonio, but in the three games Manu did play, he averaged just 11 points and 3 assists in 27 minutes, shooting just under 40% in those three contests.

But if these playoffs have taught us anything through 10 games thus far, it’s that the regular season hardly matters. And the story with Ginobili has always been the same. You take the good he brings, even with all the bad, no matter how heart attack inducing the bad can be.

Manu giveth, and Manu taketh away.

Stats via and Basketball Reference

About John Diaz

John is a University of Houston student studying journalism and a jack of all trades (but master of none) for the Project Spurs Network. His other titles include managing editor of Spurs on Sixth and associate editor of Texas Redzone Report. You may follow him on Twitter @byjohndiaz.