Playoff Breakdown: Manu Ginobili’s Scoring Vs. Mavs

Manu Ginobili has long been one of my favorite players in the NBA to watch. The manner in which he plays the game as well as the emotion he plays it with are aspects that have drawn me in. There’s no getting around the fact that Manu plays with a certain flair and unorthodox that works for him.

As the Spurs fought to tie their series with the Mavericks up at one game a piece, Ginobili scored 23 points. Let’s take a closer look at some of Ginobili’s field goals (Live video at the end of post).

The first play we’ll look came about in the second quarter and I think it’s a good example for what I feel makes Manu such a great player: his ability to make plays during chaos. The picture below is a possession in which the Spurs’ Tim  Duncan was trying to get get a shot off, and the ensuing offensive rebound leads to a loose ball. As Antonio McDyess of the Spurs is bending down attempting to pick up the loose ball, notice where Manu Ginobili is on the play (marked by a green arrow). He uses a combination of both great instincts and anticipation to cut right down the middle of the lane.

As you can see from the picture, all five Mavericks players’ eyes are on the ball and Manu seizes this opportunity to get himself a basket. As McDyess is able to pick up the loose ball and hit the cutting Ginobili. Ginobili then has the athleticism and coordination to finish at the rim around Caron Butler.

Let’s look at two more plays from last night’s game. Not necessarily known as a “shooter”, Ginobili is a career 37% shooter from three, but has been stroking it particularly well this playoffs, up to 54%. In last night’s game, the three was a big weapon for him as he hit four.

The first one we’ll see came in secondary transition. Ginobili first sets a screen for Tim Duncan, then relocates to the wing area. After receiving a pass from Tony Parker, Ginobili’s defender on this possession, Shawn Marion, closes out hard to him. Ginobili uses a shot fake to first lift Marion’s hands up, but more importantly Marion’s hands go back down as Ginobili lulls him to sleep.

In the picture above you see Ginobili with the ball near the top and Marion covering him with his hands down (perhaps anticipating getting screened). Ginobili recognizes this and has a quick enough trigger to get his shot off over the bigger Marion, which he of course makes.

On the final play, Ginobili is being used in a position he’s had with the Spurs for quite some time now, as the ball-handler in a pick and roll situation, late in games. In this particular play, Duncan is coming up to set a high screen for Ginobili. Mav’s center Brendan Haywood is the help man in this scenario and having been burnt by hedging too hard the play before (going into this play in way more depth over at Haywood elects to drop into the lane, as Ginobili’s defender, Jason Kidd, tries going under the screen.

If you take note of the time and score, the Spurs held a nine point advantage with just under two minutes to go. In my mind was Ginobili trying to stick a dagger in the heart of the Mavericks, maybe? Ginobili is not one to shy away from big shots, but in this case, he simply takes what the defense is giving him and pulls up at the three-point line to make what is ultimately a back breaking three. Afterwards you get a chance to see some of that emotion I was talking about from Ginobili.

Here’s those three plays in live video:

Justin DeFeo is a contributor to

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