Those interminable nine days off waiting for the start of the NBA Finals, openly decried as "a little bit too long" by Tony Parker, were supposed to help Manu Ginobili more than any other Spur.

They haven't.

As for that hopeful pre-series prediction from Parker that Ginobili has actually been "saving his best for the Finals" ...

He didn't.

Yet Ginobili, at the very least, surely has an explanation for his alarming lack of production more than halfway through the very series that one of this century's great playoff difference-makers -- along with Parker and Tim Duncan -- has been dreaming of since the three iconic Spurs last crossed paths with LeBron James on this stage in 2007.

Except that he doesn't.

"Yes," Ginobili concedes, "I am surprised."

He's not alone either.

When asked to explain Ginobili's disturbing and ongoing fade from postseason relevance, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, "If I knew that, I would have already fixed it."

They are trying. Behind the scenes, on top of the feverish stretching and soft-tissue work being done on Parker's strained right hamstring, San Antonio's main men are doing what they can to nudge Ginobili back to that happier playoff place where he stops thinking and just plays.

"I think everybody ... we need to help him to try to get his confidence going," Parker said.

The problem? With Parker, San Antonio knows what it's dealing with. With Manu? The Spurs have to be wondering if there's a fix at this stage for a famed first step that has been missing and some of the shakiest passing and ballhandling we've ever seen from the crafty lefty.

After four patternless games that have often defied reason, Popovich & Co. would normally be able to take some comfort from the fact that Dwyane Wade was generating pretty much all the same fears and doubts about what he has left, at 31, until Wade's 32-point eruption Thursday night.