It’s strange to say after Monday night’s 17-point route of the Thunder, that anyone needs to step up their performance for Game 2. If Wednesday night ends up being a repeat performance of Game 1, we would all take it with no questions asked.
But as Popovich has always said, the San Antonio Spurs need to maintain an appropriate fear of their opponent. Any complacency on the Spurs behalf could cost them a game and a loss of homecourt advantage through the rest of the Western Conference Finals. Five Spurs ended up scoring in double-figures Monday night, led by Tim Duncan’s 27-points, which was then followed by Manu’s quiet return to form, with a stat line of 18 points, three assists and two rebounds.
With all that being said, who needs to step up for San Antonio in Game 2? Or in this case…who needs to sustain their outstanding play to take a 2-0 series lead? It’s none other than Manu Ginobili.
The roller coaster ride that’s been Ginobili’s post-season continues. Once the difference maker in the first round versus the Mavericks, Ginobili’s production in Round 2 reverted back to dreaded “old” Manu. After the Thunder took a 78-77 lead in the third quarter, it was Ginobili’s jumpshot in the middle of the lane with four minutes left, that would put the Spurs up for good the remainder of the game. And it would be Ginobili’s 9-point flurry over a short two minute span in the fourth, that would prove to seal a victory for the silver and black in Game 1.
So what does Ginobili need to do in Game 2? Looking at his shot chart from Game 1, Ginobili did a good job of constantly attacking the basket, despite his below average shooting from inside the paint.
But Scott Brooks has also opened up Ginobili’s three point shot, thanks to his small ball lineup of putting Durant at the center position. With so many outstanding playmakers for the Spurs, Popovich can match Oklahoma City’s small-ball lineup, forcing the Thunder to basically pick their poison on who they want to leave open.
Game 2 won’t follow the same script as Game 1, and it won’t be without it’s adjustments from both sides. But with the first game as our only indicator thus far, it looks as if this series will be all about the guard play, especially from the Thunder standpoint, sans Ibaka.
If San Antonio’s guards can maintain the +13 they were in Game 1, then the Spurs should “easily” take a 2-0 lead with plenty of time to rest and readjust before Sunday’s Game 3.