With the San Antonio Spurs resting up after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals, Manu Ginobili and his teammates can only watch the Eastern Conference finals and hope for it to go the full seven games. With the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat locking horns in Game 6 Saturday night, the Spurs still don't know who their opponents will be in the NBA Finals.
If it's up to Ginobili, he'd like the series to go the distance and for the Pacers to emerge as the Eastern Conference representative in the NBA Finals. Before the Pacers start putting that on their bulletin board for motivational material, the Spurs guard had a very respectful reason for wanting this. He wants to have home-court advantage when playing for the Larry O'Brien trophy. Via the San Antonio Express-News:
In contrast to Parker, who downplayed the impact of home-court advantage in the Finals on Thursday, Ginobili said he'd prefer to have it. Miami has home court throughout the postseason, but it will revert to the Spurs should Indiana rally to win the final two games — something that has roughly a 17 percent chance of happening based on previous NBA history.
“It's not that we pull (for Indiana),” he said. “I think this time it's different than before because of the home-court advantage. It is a big difference. It's not definitive. It doesn't mean that whoever has home-court advantage is going to win. But we all prefer to have a Game 7 at home than on the road if we could get to that point. But besides that, different styles, I think we can match up with both.”
Over the last 20 NBA Finals, the team with home-court advantage heading into the series is 13-7. The last two years, the Heat in 2011 and the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, both lost the Finals despite having home-court advantage. But if the Finals were to go the distance, the Spurs definitely feel more confident playing Game 7 at home than on the road.
Ginobili is careful not to downgrade the matchup between the Spurs and the Pacers if they meet in the Finals. If anything, it pays them a compliment of sorts by saying they'd need home-court advantage to take them out and win the fifth title since Gregg Popovich took over as the coach. Or maybe he's just diplomatically saying the Heat are the better team without having to give reasons why he believes it.
Either way, Ginobili wants to be at home for the majority of the Finals if necessary and the only way that happens is by facing the Pacers. He did say he hopes the Eastern Conference finals end after five overtimes in Game 7. It's all about strategy.