Has Ginobili, a multi-time All-Star and multi-time All-NBA third teamer, become the most confounding player of the 2013 NBA Finals? Not at all. In fact, his play can be pretty easily explained.
At 35, Ginobili can no longer regularly break down defenses like he once could. He can no longer pounce defensively to get steals like he once could. He can no longer turn the corner on pick-and-rolls to find passing lanes how like he once could. That’s no knock to Ginobili. It’s just what to players as they inevitably age.
Tony Parker is younger than Ginobili, so he’s held up relatively well. Tim Duncan is older, and though he has also declined, his game is coming from a higher peak. Ginobili had less margin for error.
The Spurs know they can no longer count on Ginobili to the degree they once did, which is why his regular-season and post-season minutes per game the last two years have slipped to their lowest totals since his rookie year.
Ginobili is still certainly capable of playing elite levels, as he did with 24 points and 10 assists in Game 5. But those types of performances are becoming increasingly rare for him.
Maybe Ginobili will play great again in Game 7 tonight. It’s not impossible or even close to impossible. But it’s also unlikely.