SAN ANTONIO — Win or lose, Sunday marked the final home game of this season for the Spurs. The series shifts back to Miami for Game 6 on Tuesday night, and the winner will be decided on South Beach.
That also means that Spurs fans may have had their last chance to cheer for Manu Ginobili in the black and silver. Ginobili will turn 36 in July and is a free agent at the end of this season. He has struggled mightily in these playoffs and entered Game 5 averaging 7.5 points and shooting 34 percent in the series.
Ginobili simply hasn't looked like the dynamic, unpredictable playmaker he's been for most of his career, leading some, including himself, to wonder if he has another season left in him.
"Everything is a day-by-day basis," Ginobili said. "Once the season finishes and I see how I feel, I can't imagine me not playing at least one more year here, but time will tell. We'll see."
He's played his entire career in San Antonio, a stay that was extended when he signed a three-year, $39 million extension three years ago. He's struggled with hamstring injuries this season, but said he feels fine physically right now.
At the end of a long season, Ginobili admits to being tired and wondering how much more basketball he has left in him. Then he thinks about what the game, and San Antonio, has meant to him, and has trouble picturing himself walking away.
"Sometimes I do think about retirement," he told reporters Saturday. "But then I say, 'No, no. I love what I do. I'm very lucky to be in a franchise like this. So I really can't picture myself being retired already.'
"There's a small chance. It's not that I'm really considering, but I can never say 'no' for sure, because I sometimes consider it."
The Spurs faithful aren't giving up on him just yet. A banner at AT&T Center on Sunday night read, "We Gino-believe."
MIAMI FINISH: This season did not actually start in Miami; there was a game in Cleveland that tipped off an hour before the Heat opened defense of their NBA title against the Boston Celtics.
But for the third straight season, the NBA schedule will end in Miami.
Dallas won its 2011 championship in Miami, and the Heat closed out the 2012 finals against Oklahoma City at home as well. And with Games 6 and 7 (the latter if necessary) of this series also to be played in South Florida, it marks the first time that one team has hosted the final NBA game in three consecutive seasons since Boston did so in 1984, 1985 and 1986.
The luxury of going home for the end of the NBA Finals wasn't something the Heat were all that interested in discussing before Game 5 in San Antonio.
"It doesn't matter where our next game is," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "It could be on Mars."
NO FIGHTING: There was a fair amount of pushing and shoving in the Miami-Chicago series, and certainly no love lost between Miami and Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals.
In the NBA Finals, the Heat haven't been dealing with vitriol.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Cal State Fullerton||56||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||66|
|Sam Houston St||70|
|New Mexico St||70|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|