View Full Version : Suns' Barbosa, Spurs' Ginobili have sixth sense

04-05-2007, 11:12 AM
Suns' Barbosa, Spurs' Ginobili have sixth sense

By David DuPree, USA TODAY

When it comes to making things happen for their teams, the spotlight often turns on Leandro Barbosa of the Phoenix Suns and Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs.

Overshadowed most nights this season by higher-profile All-Stars Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion of the Suns and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker of the Spurs, Barbosa and Ginobili often set the tone with their all-out, frenetic play.

That could be particularly important Thursday night in one of the biggest games of the season for both teams (9:30 ET, TNT).

The rivals appear headed for a second-round showdown in the playoffs, with the big question being who will have the home-court advantage. The Suns go into the game with a three-game lead over the third-place Spurs in the race for the No. 2 seed in the West behind the Dallas Mavericks. The winner will also capture the season series 2-1.

"They're one of the best in the league," Duncan said of the Suns. "It's a great test time for us, especially coming down toward the end of the season here."

It's also a head-to-head showcase for Barbosa and Ginobili, the two leading candidates for the NBA's Sixth Man Award. Ginobili began the season as San Antonio's starting shooting guard, but when the Spurs bench faltered, coach Gregg Popovich did what he has often done turned to Ginobili to provide the spark. This time it happened in late January.

"It isn't the first time," Ginobili said. "I understand why it's this way. It's the best way to help the team win, so I'm in favor of it."

To win the Sixth Man Award, a player has to have come in off the bench in more games than he has started. Ginobili has started 36 games and been a reserve in 33. The Spurs have eight games left, so Ginobili will have to come off the bench in four of them without any more starts to be eligible.

Barbosa, although he has started the last two games and 17 overall this season, will end the season having come off the bench 55 times if he remains the starter.

"It doesn't matter to me," Barbosa said. "My role is still the same to make things happen."

Ben Gordon of the Chicago Bulls was the early leader for the Sixth Man Award, but he has started 44 games, making him ineligible.

The Suns lead the league in scoring and two of the three shooting categories, and the Spurs, third in opponents' field goal percentage and second in opponents' three-point percentage, are one of the league's premier defensive teams.

"We shoot the ball so well that it gets overlooked how well guys are shooting," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.

For the Spurs, going into the playoffs with everything clicking has always been their objective. "We haven't really focused on getting the best record in any year," Popovich said. "The focus has always been making sure our priorities are in order, beginning with defense, that we're as healthy as we can possibly be, and that our bench has gotten enough minutes."

04-05-2007, 11:12 AM
They both can kiss my a$$

left texas
04-05-2007, 11:45 AM
I can't stand to watch this guy shoot, his style sucks, but most of the time I can't stand it because they go in.

04-05-2007, 11:53 AM
Ginobilli has had the better year but I think Barbosa is more of a real 6th man.

04-05-2007, 12:14 PM
South America is overrated.