Courtesy of Jeff McDonald:
Thursday was a D-Day of sorts for Manu Ginobili. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had said if Ginobili was unable to get on the floor for practice by this day, that's when it would be time to worry.
Well, Ginobili was out on the practice floor this morning. It's too early to call "crisis averted," but it was an encouraging sign.
"It's the next step in getting him back to whole," Popovich said after the session.
Ginobili has missed 16 consecutive games with a stress reaction in his right ankle. Thursday marked four weeks since the prognosis of two-to-three weeks inintially offered by the team's medical staff.
This morning, Ginobili played a some one-one-one, did some scripted offense and defense, and -- perhaps most importantly -- worked out at full speed. He even dunked once, video you're likely to see on everybody's newscast tonight.
It would be premature to expect Ginobili in all his glory to be making an appearance on an NBA floor near you soon. By the end of full-court drills, Ginobili was sucking wind.
Just the fact that Ginobili's sore right ankle allowed him to do more today than he could do yesterday was clearly a heartening development for the Spurs. Popovich said it will be at least a week more before he will even consider getting Ginobili into a game.
"When he's able to play without fear of making it worse, that's when he'll play," Popovich said. "When's he's on a track where it's just getting better and better all the time and he can't go backwards, that's when he's going to play. When is that? Heck, I don't know."
What is clear is that Thursday's practice, and more like it, will give the Spurs medical staff a better sense of when Ginobili might be ready for action.
"You can tell in workouts if guys are favoring a foot," Popovich said. "The court is what gives us those answers. For him to get on the court today, and play a little of both offense and defense, starts to make a picture for us to look at. But it will be at least a week before we start to get serious about whether he's going to play or not."