Jan 31, 2012, 12:56 PM EDT
San Antonio has held its own just fine without Manu Ginobili — they have gone 10-7 without him and held on as the sixth seed in a packed West — but they are nearing the end of that trial.
Though still a few weeks away from returning to the court, Ginobili is out of his post-surgery splint and has been cleared to do some basketball work with his repaired hand.
“He’s shooting mid-range shots, lefty,” coach Gregg Popovich said Monday. “He’ll be cleared to go one-on-one in a week or so.”
The timetable is still a mid-February return, somewhere during their Rodeo road trip.
When he broke his hand on Jan. 2, Ginobili was playing maybe the best basketball of his career, scoring 17.4 points per game while shooting 59 percent and also creating shots for his teammates. Get him back — combined with the depth that has and the Spurs start to look like the kind of team the elite in the West would like to avoid early in the playoffs. They will be a very tough out.