BOSTON – Manu Ginobili was quiet in the first half of San Antonio’s 102-89 victory in their finals opener against the Boston Celtics. And by quiet, that means he only had 2 points to go with his 8 assists and 2 steals by halftime.
With Tim Duncan struggling with totals of 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first finals appearance in three years and Tony Parker held to 3 points in the third quarter after exploding for 19 in the first two, Manu proved that he was still as much a part of the Spurs’ Big Three as his multiple All Star teammates. Ginobili, whose lone appearance in the mid-season classic was in Denver in 2005, showed the brilliance that caused many to consider him among the league’s best shooting guards. He scored 21 points in the second half through contested long threes and hard driving layups.
Boston coach Doc Rivers tried four different defenders on Manu in the third and fourth quarters, but no one was able to slow him down. At least not scoring-wise. At one point in the fourth—after Manu hit his third of four threes for the game—Celtics guard Tony Allen got entangled with Ginobili while battling a loose ball, leaving the Argentine motionless on the ground for a few tense seconds. Characteristic of Boston fans, they cheered after noticing that Manu was in pain. The new father of twins reassured Spurs fans that he was okay by hitting both free throws.
Former Spurs reserve Michael Finley, who had his own share of failures in trying to guard Ginobili, quipped, “In the third and fourth, Manu was just…Manu.” Paul Pierce led Boston with 24 points, but no one else scored more than KG’s 16. The usually loud-mouthed Garnett had little to say in the press conference after they gave up home court advantage. “They won. We lost. End of story. We’ll win by 20 in game two,” he boldly guaranteed.
San Antonio’s bench, led by George Hill’s 19, trounced on their Boston counterparts, 28-16. The Spurs also had more assists and rebounds than the Celtics.
Game two is Sunday night at Boston.