Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs
When: Tuesday, May 21, 8:00 PM CST
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Series Standing: Memphis trails 0-1
Media: ESPN, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Opposing Views: 48 Minutes of Hell
Memphis kicked off the series on the right foot with a Marc Gasol layup to put them up 2-0 with their first possession. However, that was the first and only point at which the Grizzlies led all game. They had their Grit n’ Grind defense sliced and diced by the Spurs, and were incapable of answering back with some spark of their own on the other end of the court. The ol’ reliable starting front court of the Grizz which gave the team an average of 38 points and 17 rebounds throughout the playoffs thus far combined for a meager 17 points and 14 boards in the first game this series, which is not going to do the trick. The Grizzlies became far too reliant on the long two point shot to run an efficient offense, which sputtered out a 43% shooting performance, contributing to a day in which they were outscored by 22 points.
San Antonio made a killing in Game one, rendering the usually very stingy Grizzlies defense quite vulnerable in a manner akin to what few other teams have done this season. The Spurs drew and toyed with the help defense of the Grizz for the entirety of the afternoon on Sunday. They were masterfully able to anticipate when and where the help would be coming from, and thus manipulated the Grizzlies into giving up uncontested looks all game. It was glaringly evident that Coach Popovich did his homework and had his team prepped for this series. The Spurs, who led the league this year with 25.1 assisted baskets per game, finished Game One with 28 assists on 40 field goals, which meant a lot of clean sightlines to the basket. This is further evidenced by the fact that they sank 14 from the arc, on 48%, and completed the game at 52% from the floor as a whole.
For individual matchup analyses, check out the Series Post
– Spacing, spacing, spacing. San Antonio looked like a team that just came off of a six game series with Golden State. To be honest, at times I felt like I was watching the Grizzlies play Golden State. The Spurs too can stretch the floor as well as anybody in this league, and were not shy to put it on display in Game One. The Grizzlies defense got caught with its pants down, so to speak, for the majority of Sunday’s game. They were guilty of over-helping on the ball, and as a result the Spurs were able to swing it to their open gunners with ridiculous precision, oftentimes drawing the Grizz so far out of position that the shooter did not even have to worry about a closeout. The outcome? Matt Bonner, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard were not only able to light up the scoreboard, but moreover able to do so without setting foot outside of their comfort zones. The Grizzlies need to either do a better job of cutting off the ball at the point of attack with the help that they send, or staying at home on their man, because you cannot have it half way… unless you enjoy giving up open looks, that is.
– Quincy Pondexter looked like he would have fit in well on the Spurs, as he’s been the only Grizzlies role player to show up on both ends of the floor with any shade of regularity in the playoffs. He was the leading scorer for the boys in blue, with 17 points on a very respectable 5-9 shooting from the land of plenty. Pondexter has had some ups and downs this season, at least due in part to the recovery process regarding his knee injury, but he has definitely earned his keep on this roster. If he has another performance like this one with the rest of this team remotely resembling Grizzlies basketball, it would be a dangerously effective contribution.
– Marc Gasol and Mike Conley seemed determined to bring the Grizzlies back into the game at the end of the first half. Conley did a very good job of weaving his way in and out of the paint in game one, but could not seem to mount the aggression to catalyze much offensive rhythm for the team as a whole. He did a good job of distributing, with 8 assists, and managed to put a decent number of points on the board, but outside of Gasol, the others could not really get it going. Gasol had a relatively sound individual offensive game as well, but made most of his noise on outside shots. He also only dished out 2 assists for the game. The two of them need to get going in Game Two, but the team as a whole will need to respond when they do.
– Zach Randolph had a very quiet outing in Game One. He got beat up on the offensive end, as the Spurs did an excellent job of packing the paint on him, and taking him out of his game. On numerous occasions we saw Z-bo try and engage the defender in contact, to which Tim Duncan simply said “no thanks.” Zach thrives on the contact that he creates, and uses it to ground himself, so when Duncan would back off, he found himself off-balance and out of sync. We saw Marc masterfully use this defensive tactic on Blake Griffin in the first round. Additionally, Z-bo had a rough time getting possession of the ball in good position. He was unable to use the contact to pin his man below the basket, and consequently had to try to get his offense going from the outside-in, which is definitely not the preferred strategy for him. His first points came on a “Z-bound” tip in, in the fourth quarter, which is an unacceptable circumstance if the Grizzlies stand any chance of winning. He started out slow early on in the Clipper series as well, but will need to snap out of it much earlier against the Spurs, who are a more poised veteran team that will not be caught off guard as easily.
– I’ve stopped myself time and time again, and bit my tongue saying anything to criticize coaching decisions, but I’m not sure what Ed Davis has to do to get a chance to prove himself in the playoffs. It is certainly not the issue of the matter that Darrell Arthur has done much to strongarm him out of the competition. Arthur failed to make any kind of difference on Bonner, defensively, and I would have to imagine that Davis’s opportunity in garbage time may have served as a secret audition to some degree. He should definitely spend the summer working on going over his other shoulder in the post.
Some Final Musings:
– Jerryd Bayless’s 8 point, 4 rebound 5 assist, 0 turnover performance is one that I’d guess Lionel Hollins would take any day, and his steal-fastbreak-slam combo was the last ray of hope in Game One.
– Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili scored a combined 14 points on 5-15 shooting, and the Spurs still blew the Grizzlies out. Memphis picked its poison, and the San Antonio role players lived up to the challenges.
– To put the 3-point differential into perspective, the Spurs had six players sink a shot from deep as they poured in 42 points from downtown. Memphis landed 15, all off of Pondexter’s fingertips.