The health of the Big 3 has been always been among the San Antonio Spurs top priorities. They knew they need their top dogs to be fresh and ready as possible once the playoffs roll around.
With coach Gregg Popovich juggling the lineup like a magician, while managing his stars minutes at the same time, that has been the case this season.
San Antonio holds a 2-0 series lead in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz, and will gun for a third straight post season victory, and 13th overall when they head to Salt Lake City for Game 3.
However, the Spurs expects a tougher Jazz squad with their home crowd at their side.
Tony Parker said Thursday he would rank the Utah crowd as one of the five loudest in the NBA.
“Since I’ve been here back with Karl Malone and John Stockton, suddenly there are no more calls, it’s like super physical and it’s almost like no referees,” Parker said, chuckling. “It’s great over there. I like the atmosphere, the fans they are great and it’s going to be fun.”
The Spurs have made the proper adjustments in Game 2, and appear to be in full control of the series so far. But in reality, that just held homecourt. Winning Game 3 in Utah will give them the real upper hand.
Despite San Antonio’s recent success, Manu Ginobili has been struggling in the postseason. In two games, Ginobili has totaled 11 points and has as many assists as turnovers. He has made 5-of-16 field goals, and missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
Should the Spurs be worried?
Not at the moment. With a deep lineup, the Spurs simply didn’t need Manu to force the issue and carry the team on his back.
In Game 1, he didn’t shoot the ball well, but he did made some great plays for his teammates. In Game 2, with the game out of hand early, Ginobili didn’t get enough minutes to get it going.
Nonetheless, Manu aims to get back on track Saturday, he doesn’t seem to be sweating his personal struggles in Games 1 and 2. The stellar play from almost everybody else up and down the Spurs’ roster has done wonders for his spirits.
“I didn’t play good the first two games,” he said. “Everybody saw that. I want to get it back in Game 3.”
“The good thing is that we are a good team. You don’t need individuals. You need a group to stand by you and play well. When your team is doing so good, your mistakes and the bad game I had is totally unimportant. I’m proud to see the team play like that.”
The Spurs main goal is winning.
On Saturday that will be the case, but it will also be a good thing to see Ginobili to back being Manu as the series progresses. San Antonio will definitely need him as they go deeper into the playoffs.