Manu Ginóbili secured San Antonio's 21th season consecutively into the play-off

The San Antonio Spurs qualified for the NBA playoffs last night, thanks to an inexhaustible Manu Ginóbili which resulted in an incredible 98-85 win against the Sacramento Kings following a late awakening in the fourth quarter.

This is the twenty first straight season into the playoffs for the San Antonio Spurs, who are one season away from breaking the 76ers’ record; that team managed to clinch the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons, from 1950 to 1971.

Ginobili and Parker have been playing together at San Antonio since 2002 (Photo via De la Bahia)
Ginobili and Parker have been playing together at San Antonio since 2002 (Photo via De la Bahia)

Yesterday’s game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio didn’t get off to the most auspicious start for the local team. Down 14 points, the Spurs managed to tie things up at 77-77, six minutes before the end; they totally controlled the last quarter with a 38-19 lead. Rudy Gay, who scored 18 points, declared after the match: “It feels good. It feels great actually.” This is understandable when taking the overall Spurs’ season into account, which was impacted by many injuries. Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginóbili were all unable to play at some point during the season.

“El Manu” scored nine points during the 21-8 run which closed the match, finishing with 17 points overall. “We got a little antsy, we wanted to win it in the first quarter,” he declared after the game. “We had to fight really hard, it was a very tough game.”

On the topic of the difficult season the Spurs had, he affirmed: “Sometimes you’ve got to adjust your goals relative to your potential, the way you’ve been playing, the way the season is going. So, we’ve got to be realistic. Maybe we’re not the favorites this year or maybe it wasn’t going to be a 60-win season like the previous ones. After what happened in February and early March, we had to shift our expectations. We mentioned many times, the goal was to make it to the playoffs. Once we get there, then we may think about standings, but the way the West is this year, it’s crazy. Everything is so clogged so tight that at this point, we’re happy to have [made it this far].”

It was a special night for the Argentine player, who reached Michael Jordan in the number of games with more than 10 points scored (he has 30, Jordan “only” managed 29) after turning 40. For #ElPibeDe40, this is his fifteenth playoff season with the San Antonio Spurs (he’s never played with another NBA team); he only missed the 2009 run due to injury.

The Spurs still have a final game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. Despite having already qualified for the playoffs, a win would secure a better spot in the Western Conference, moving up to fourth from a previous fifth place.