Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili could swing Finals re-match toward Spurs this time


“How different is your mind from where it was a year ago?” Doris Burke asked Manu Ginobili at halftime of Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals.

“Exactly the same,” said Ginobili shot back as if he strained all year to transform his pain into determination for this moment.

If Ginobili’s mentality remained identical to himself, he played as if he warped reality and time.

The same player who struggles through last year’s Finals? No longer a player who, as Danny Green put it, “could take over games in an instant”?


Fewer than five minutes after entering Game 1, Ginobili had shot 3-of-3 on 3-pointers, made two steals and blocked a shot. He was playing with absolutely maniacal focus and intensity.

Ginobili finished with 16 points and 11 assists – posting the Finals’ first 15-point, 10-assist line off the bench since the NBA began tracking starters and reserves – and it should come as no surprise.

This is just what Ginobili does. He has more 15-point, 10-assist playoff games off the bench in the last 23 years than everyone else combined.

But carrying this type of production into Game 2 tonight will be paramount.

If the Spurs had a goat in their crushing seven-game defeat to Miami last year, it was Ginobili. With one or two exceptions, he really struggled and never sustained his fleeting success.

He averaged 7.5 points on 34 percent shooting in Games 1-4, had 24 points and 10 assists in Game 5, turned the ball over eight times in Game 6 and the four more times in Game 7.

Ginobili might be the cog that quietly swings this re-match toward San Antonio.

He wasn’t even the best San Antonio bench player in Game 1. He’s no longer explosive as he once was.

But with the same mindset, Ginobili is producing radically different results – and with them, the Spurs’ final result might be different, too.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.