Recently Project Spurs have looked at Tim Duncan’s and Tony Parker’s top five games, now it is time to look at Manu Ginobili. The Argentine elicits mixed reactions from around the league. Many people dislike him for flopping and embellishing contact, but it is hard to deny his many unique talents. Ginobili might be the only player in the NBA that you cannot defend a certain way to slow him down. He wants to go left and everybody knows that, so defenders try to force him right. That makes no difference, however, because he is just as efficient going either direction. Play off Ginobili and he will bury the opponent with threes. Try to play physical with him and watch him destroy you from the free throw line. It is a shame that his career has been slowed down lately by injuries but he cannot play any other way besides all out.
5. Spurs v. Sonics 5/17/2005 Semifinals, Game 5– The upstart Sonics were a surprisingly tough team in 2005 led by Ray Allen and his three point shooting. The Spurs won the first two games of the Semifinals before the Sonics won the next two. That meant the Spurs returned to San Antonio for the pivotal game five a must win game. They did not want to head back to Seattle with their season on the line.
Ginobili came through with one of his best games, finishing with 39 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 4-of-6 on threes, 15-of-17 on free throws, six assists, four rebounds, two steals and only one turnover. A big part of Ginobili’s game is finding a way to the free throw line where he shoots over 80%. He used this ability to help the Spurs win the game and take control of the series.
4. Spurs v. Suns 1/21/2005– The Spurs were down by 17 points in the fourth quarter before coming back to defeat the Suns 128-123 in overtime. That was the Suns sixth consecutive loss and Steve Nash’s return the lineup after injury makes the win more satisfying.
Ginobili scored a career high 48 points on 16-of-22 shooting, 5-of-7 on threes, 11-of-12 on free throws, five rebounds and six assists. What made the Spurs games with the Suns so great was that the stars always showed up. I think the Suns have appeared on these top five lists more than any other team. I know the two teams have played often over the past decade, but the Spurs “Big Three” did their share of damage to the Suns. There was no stopping him this January night.
3. Spurs v. Hawks 2/21/2007– Yes, I know that he was playing the lowly Hawks. I don’t care. Anytime a player scores 24 straight points I consider it a great game. Think about that for a second. No other player for the Spurs had a steal and a breakaway layup, was fouled and hit a free throw, or tipped a missed shot in.
He finished the game with 40 points on 12-of-22 shooting, 14-of-15 free throws, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. This was an outstanding display of offensive talent. I remember not seeing this game and just being in awe when I heard about Ginobili scoring 24 straight points. I still am.
2. Spurs v. Suns 5/18/2007 Semifinals, Game 6– I know the Spurs and Suns met in the 2008 playoffs with the Spurs winning 4-1. To me the end of the Suns era of run-and-gun success came in the 2007 playoffs. Like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Ginobili has had his share of great games against the Suns. In game 6 he was instrumental in closing down the Suns.
Ginobili had another highly efficient game, finishing with 33 points on 11-of-17 shooting, 4-of-7 threes, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals. He has always been a good rebounder for a shooting guard, and he had four offensive boards in the game. His success on the glass comes not from size or strength but from tenacity and understanding of the game.
1. Spurs v. Cavaliers 2/13/2008– LeBron James is the one who is supposed to have 46 points, eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and one block. Instead it was Ginobili who dominated the game. Even though this game came in the middle of the season, I cannot deny that this was Ginobili’s best game of his career.
He was two points off his career high but his efficiency was incredible. He shot 15-of-20, made 8-of-11 threes and 8-of-9 free throws. I contend that no player can score with the efficiency and variety that Ginobili does. He can shoot from behind the arc, finish at the basket and get to the free throw line. Now, these attributes are not exclusive to Ginobili but the style and the way he scores is unique. When people think of the best offensive player in the league they think of Kobe or LeBron, but Ginobili is in their league when he is on. This game was a prime example.
Please leave your comments about this list and chime in on other great Manu games you can remember.