Manu Ginobili will square on Monday night against fellow Euro-Step practitioner Dwyane Wade
MIAMI -- A little over a week ago, the long faces on the Miami Heat bench said it all.
The fourth quarter was coming to an end and the San Antonio Spurs were putting the finishing touches on a 30-point statement victory over the Heat.
The Heat now have their chance at redemption.
“We have to forget about that game, because if we don't, we will become the dominated team,” said Manu Ginobili after Monday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. “We have to move the ball as well as we did last time, but more importantly we must stay humble.”
The Spurs made 17 shots from beyond the arc while dismantling the Heat, and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich went so far as to call it the Spurs' "best performance of the season”.
In order to repeat, the Spurs must keep their foot on the pedal, some Ginobili knows all too well.
“Myself and Tony Parker must be aggressive and attack the rim, because when we do so, we are at our best, and that opens up perimeter opportunities.”
San Antonio holds the best record in the NBA (54-12), but rarely do they get much love from the press and you don't usually see them listed as one of the premiere contenders to win it all.
The Heat's situation is completely the opposite, as Miami's every move is put under the microscope.
“I bet it isn't easy to have each one of you moves overanalyzed,” expressed Ginobili. “The majority of those who are voicing their opinions are not in the locker room with the team, but most definitely I prefer to be flying under the radar.”
The Heat now has two victories in a row, and have recovered from their five-game losing streak which caused many to jump off the Heat's bandwagon.
“People are being too harsh with the Heat,” said Ginobili. “They are still in third place in the Eastern Conference and playing good basketball. What they have done is admirable considering they started the season with 10 new players. That's almost a complete squad.”
The Argentinean shooting guard is the first to admit that staying healthy has been the key to the Spurs success, and there is no doubt that, when healthy, Ginobili is an elite player.
Tonight he'll be covering Dwyane Wade at times, hence, the inevitable question:
Who has the better Euro-Step?
“I think Wade is more explosive than I am,” stated Ginobili in between laughs. “He is very tough to cover with his explosiveness, but I started doing the Euro-Step before he did.”
As of now, life is good for the Spurs, and tonight will just be one more test.
Tim Duncan, by his own admission, is “older and not as good as before,” but Ginobili remains confident that the Spurs can make another title run.
“We can be champions once again because we are a great team and we play in a great system,” emphasized Ginobili. “We need all of our players, but at the same time do not depend of any of us exclusively.”
Polar opposites of the Heat, which is probably one major injury away from disaster.
You can read the original version of this story in Spanish at ESPNdeportes.com.