The matchup of the game for Friday night's matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers will be between backups Manu Ginobili and Jamal Crawford.
This will be the fourth and final game between the two teams in the regular season with the Spurs looking to tie up the series at 2-2. Both men's average in this series is almost identical with Ginobili averaging 11.3ppg to Crawford's 12ppg this season. While both men can score, Ginobili is more of a balanced player on the offensive end who is also looking to distribute the ball. He's making up for his lower point average with 3apg to Crawford's 2.3apg in this series. Ginobili will have a hard time guarding Crawford, who's a streaky shooter who never takes a bad shot in his book. Manu will have to play hard on both ends of the floor this series despite the Spurs having a deep bench.
What Ginobili must do on offense:
Crawford is not known for his defense, so Manu must keep active and having him move his feet on defense. Manu is very crafty on offense by using picks and moving off the ball and that'll be the best defense too. Ginobili is just shooting 33% in 21mpg against the Clippers this season, but look for him to up that average with the Oklahoma City Thunder creeping up on San Antonio for the first seed. The good news for Spurs fans is that Ginobili is shooting 44% from the 3-point arc against the Clippers and those will be badly needed tonight.
What Ginobili must do on defense:
With Manu on the floor, Crawford hasn't been as explosive this series. He's shooting 50% from the paint area, but has only shot 2-4 with Ginobili on the floor there. Manu's underrated defense plays a big part in this matchup tonight also. He's also shooting 33% (2-6) from the 3-point arc where much of his success has been from above the arc. This is usually because the Clippers look to outlet quick and the wing 3-point shot is the quickest and easiest shot in transition. The majority of his shots have come from mid-range where he's shooting 38% (3-8) and that's a spot the Spurs welcome him to shoot from. San Antonio can't afford to give him three point shots with his 37% season average from there and can't have him drive in with the athletic bigs of Los Angeles ready to put back any misses with the Spurs' big men helping. Ginobili must stay in front of him above the arc and protect the drive while forcing him to shoot a long two shot to get the better of this matchup.