Posted Mar 14 2011 11:13AM
In musical terms, it's quite simple to understand. The Heat are pounding drums and slashing guitars on a stage at a huge outdoor stadium with a stack of speakers that towers up to the sky.
The Spurs are the Muzak you hear in an elevator.
"Look, if Bono, Mick Jagger and somebody big else gets together and form a group, they're gonna get a lot of interest and headlines if they don't do great or if they do great," said Manu Ginobili.
"So this was kind of a big deal -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh getting together and going to South Beach. It's a very big deal and it draws attention. It's understandable. But we really don't care."
Maybe that's because when the two teams last met 10 days ago in San Antonio, the Spurs hung a 30-point beating on the Heat in a game that was over faster than a vintage Mike Tyson fight.
So, with four previous NBA championships on their franchise resume and far and away the best record in the league this season, maybe the Spurs should be the ones with the screaming fans and the rock star images.
"No, we are kinda not," Ginobili said laughing. "OK, well, we might be like Mick Jagger because of the age. Mick Jagger is Tim. Maybe I am Paul McCartney. And Tony is Bono.
"At least, as I speak for myself, I really don't care about the hype with Miami. It does not bother me. I think it's good for the league that a team like that gets together -- that young and talented -- and people are talking about the NBA. It's fine. People turn on the TV to see the Heat and, you know, they do see the other teams too."
Ginobili figures that anybody who turns on the TV on Monday night to see the rematch when the Spurs go into Miami (8 ET, ESPN) is going to see a different kind of game, a different kind of Heat team.
"Oh yes, they're gonna be upset," he said. "They're gonna play hard. They're coming from beating the Lakers, which fuels you ... It's a great challenge. As players, we wish all the games were like that."
Since slinking out of San Antonio, the Heat saw their losing streak grow to four games, their image take a further hit with the "Crygate" incident and then rebounded with the huge win over the two-time defending champs that sent Kobe Bryant back out onto the floor at American Airlines Arena for his personal post-game shooting practice.
"It's 82 games and especially with a team that talented, you know (when) they lose four games in a row, they're gonna bounce back," Ginobili said. "They've got character, they've got talent, they've got youth and strength. You knew they were going to bounce back."
While the Heat have played the entire season on a yo-yo string, the Spurs have continued walking straight up the hill, simply putting one foot in front of the other. Less than 48 hours after pummeling the Heat, the Spurs were the ones getting bruised on their home court by the Lakers. But there was no outcry, no panic, no one running down the street with their hair on fire.
For one reason, that's because they're the Spurs.
"Sure, we have a different profile," Ginobili said. "But we also have a team with veterans at the core who have been together and over-reacting is not something we do. It's not what the Spurs as an organization do."
The Spurs, 54-12, have lost consecutive games only once all season -- Jan. 4-5 at New York and Boston -- and have had winning streaks of 12, 10 and eight games.
"Still it's important to have games like this, to measure, to see where you are, how good you really are and how much you've got to improve," Ginobili said. "But at the same time, losing to the Lakers, what did that change? We're not good anymore?"
The Spurs are good in different ways now, pushing the ball up the floor in transition, taking the first open shot, often burying opponents with a barrage of 3-pointers. They have relied more heavily on Ginobili as a starter than ever before, have gotten more out of Richard Jefferson in his second season with the team, have gotten so many of their critical clutch shots from Parker, have nurtured a deep bench in George Hill, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair and yet still have the All-Star Duncan tucked into their back pocket.
On Saturday night in Houston, Duncan was as dull as gray carpet for most of the game until the Rockets tied the score at 107-all in the final minutes. Then he came down the floor on consecutive possessions to knock in a classic jump hook and two free throws. Game over. Duncan has become less of an entrée and more of a palate cleanser. And closer.
"Of course, he's not the guy that we just give the ball and wait on," Ginobili said. "At some parts of the game we're going to do it, just not as constant as we used to. But he's still a great, great player."
The way the Spurs could be growing into a great team, even if hardly anyone has bothered to notice.
"I'm not a mass media consumer, so I'm not sure what people say about us," Ginobili said with a shrug. "But at this point we are six games ahead of the second-best team in the standings, so we are hardly under the radar. We were like that at the beginning, maybe the first 30 to 40 games. Nobody was sure if we could keep it up, if they could believe in us.
"But I think that now everybody knows who we are and the chances we have or we don't have. And then again, I don't think anybody inside the team really cares. We are not a team trying to draw attention and have people talk about us and asking for extra interviews and stuff. Miami can have all that."
Speaking words of wisdom, Manu "McCartney" and the Spurs will let it be.
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