The stunning series also solidified (if it needed solidification) the importance of Manu Ginobili to the team. His presence was missed to an extreme magnitude, and without him the Spurs lacked the instant offense they have enjoyed in the past. The team knew it would be an uphill battle without him heading into the series, and his absence only worked to illustrate this point. San Antonio’s inability to win a series without Manu places him on the pedestal with the other elite players who are crucial to their team’s success, such as Kobe, LeBron, CP3, etc. Fret not though Spurs fans. With Tony at the helm of a healthy lineup (mainly the improved health of Manu and Timmy), and some additions to improve the athletic ability and explosiveness of the team, the Spurs will yet again be able to strike fear into the hearts of teams, and continue to contend for a title.
Side II: Although the Mavs were able to defeat the once-Western powerhouse Spurs in 5 games, I feel that there is little to celebrate in Big D. No one expected much from the Mavericks heading into the playoffs, and even after an impressive victory of San Antonio, it seems that very few are actually regarding them as a true championship contender. And with good reason. The Mavericks were simply too late to come up with a successful playoff series victory. Where was such a performance all those years they were struggling in the late rounds of the playoffs to take that step from a good team to an elite team? How come they couldn’t manage to close a series in which they led 2-0 against Miami in the Finals a couple years back? And where was this first round fire when they (a then number one seed) was embarrassed and outplayed by the eighth-seeded Warriors? A series victory in any of these situations would have worked wonders for the franchise, but now it seems as though the Mavericks are simply denying the inevitable. The team’s window of opportunity has slowly but surely slid closed. They are in a similar situation as the Phoenix Suns, another team who sat atop the Western Conference standings for a better part of the decade, but were never able to quite get over the hump and win a championship. The only difference at this point seems to be that the Suns have realized their situation, while the Mavs continue to dissuade themselves into thinking that they are true championship contenders.Sure they have enough talent to make the playoffs, but are they really good enough at this point to challenge for a title? In my opinion, no. Jason Kidd and Eric(a) Dampier are a season or two away from enjoying retirement, and I don’t believe that Dirk can carry the team on his back any longer. So my advice to Dallas fans is to enjoy this playoff success while it lasts, because just as they learned in Phoenix, the Sun is quickly setting.