According to the associated press, PtR's poster boy is going to be back Saturday night to play "not many" minutes, as Pop said. In most, if not all, of the previous instances when the Argentine was making a come back from all sorts of injuries one can possibly think of, we would be ecstatic about it, as if LWM were a living hell and that his return to the roster would save us from all our miseries. For some reason, that hasn't actually been the case for this particular impending return against the Nets.
We can put the blame on a couple of guys on the Spurs roster for that. Blame Tony Parker for filling the huge hole left by our best player, logging some insane minutes and numbers to eke out close victories against formidable foes, producing when all else fails. Blame old man Tim Duncan for his consistency and an aura of rejuvenation never before seen in recent memory. Blame Tiago Splitter for proving during Manu's absence that our frontline is in good shape once the old man decides that he's finally too old for all this. Blame Kawhi Leonard for his Manu-like energy, especially on the defensive end. Blame Gary Neal and Matt Bonner for their sweet shooting on most nights. Blame Richard Jefferson for continuing to do what Pop expects him to do despite the outpouring of criticisms. Blame DeJuan Blair for not boxing out... okay, it didn't come out quite right. (I like Blair in our roster, by the way... just please, Pop, don't put him inside with Bonner.) Blame James Anderson for helping us win that home game against Houston. And most of all, Blame Danny Green for making us not miss Manu too much.Six game winning streak to open the RRT... we are on a roll, pounders! Could it get any better than that? Well, Manu's back! It should get better than that, shouldn't it?
I'm sure all of us are excited and glad that Manu is back, but I'm also sure that some of us also feel a little bit of apprehension. How will his return affect the inspired play of our Shock Troopers (reserves: Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Gary Neal)? Many of us have joined the Green brigade and for an evenhanded sense, we have reason to believe that Manu's return could have an adverse effect on the growth of these youngsters.
Nonetheless, fret not, my friends. Manu isn't going to eat up much of their minutes. If my prophetic ball is telling me the truth, then Manu's return is going to significantly reduce Tony's extended minutes, thereby saving him before he gets burned out for the playoffs. RJamnesty's minutes will probably suffer, too, as well as Timmeh's... but isn't that a good thing? As for our shock troopers, Gary Neal will probably spend more time on the bench and return to his old role as a specialty shooter. He doesn't really need more minutes in order to produce numbers, anyway. He's like a Ben Gordon back in Chicago before... scores fast, but lacks defense. Kawhi would also probably get his minutes limited a bit because he won't be starting anymore, not unless RJamnesty has to come off the bench, which is not a good move, in my opinion. With the continued flak he's receiving, it won't help his confidence level if you bench him now. We need him and his confidence in the playoffs. We have to accept that.
Danny Green, if Manu resumes his starting role, ought to continue to be the first man off the bench. Well, we can also make a case for Tiago, too, but that entirely depends on game situation (foul trouble et al) and that's Pop's prerogative (what isn't?). Green will thrive with Manu. Aren't we excited about him, Manu, Tiago and perhaps Kawhi together on the floor?
The best thing about Manu's return is that we get another facilitator on offense. Manu's ballhandling skills will serve us well, to give Tony the much deserved respite... Gary Neal stops his poor impersonation of a point guard and just goes back to what he does best - shoot the ball.
Everybody's happy. I'm happy. Aren't you?