With the home team who has never won a playoff game in Memphis up two in a pivotal Game 3 between the 4-time-in-the-last-12-years-champion San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies, where would this sequence rank in terms of likelihood ?
1. Zach Randolph hits a pull-up, contested 3-pointer.
2. Manu Ginobili answers with clutch free throws.
3. Randolph misses another pull-up jumper with time remaining.
4. George Hill grabs the rebound, and instead of calling timeout, which the Spurs had one, Hill instead takes off for half-court.
5. Hill throws it to Ginobili, who is trapped in the corner as Matt Bonner frantically calls for the ball instead of for timeout.
6. Tim Duncan comes roaring up the floor screaming for the timeout, which isn’t awarded because of the official not seeing it and coach Gregg Popovich not having called it.
7. Time expires, Grizzlies win, Memphis leads 2-1.
I’m thinking somewhere in the range of 1800-1 odds. Maybe. If we’re being generous.
Check it out.
Here’s the 3-pointer from Randolph, a career 28 percent shooter.
And here’s the final possession, which is just downright bizarre.
So that happened.
Memphis wins its first home playoff game in franchise history while the Spurs face a 2-1 deficit, which they’ve rallied back from once, and that wasn’t in a series where they blew home-court advantage. The Grizzlies are clutch, the Spurs are bumbling. Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria!
How did it get to that point?
The Grizzlies got back to what worked in Game 1. They pounded it inside. Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 42 point and 14 rebounds, while Darrel Arthur added nine points and six boards. The difference in Games 2 and 3? The Grizzlies did a much better job with interior spacing, creating more room for passes and not getting bogged down. Throw in some effective cuts by guards and wings and you had an offense the Spurs couldn’t just bum rush with traps down low.
Ginobili was the would-be savior for the Spurs, causing havoc, and picking up six fouls on Tony Allen nearly all by himself. Ginobili finished with 23 points, five assists, and three turnovers, not counting the final possession. But the Grizzlies answered with … Shane Battier? (I told you it was a weird game.) Battier had nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, with most of them coming on post-ups of Ginobili. While Ginobili was able to get past Battier because of his speed, Battier used his size to overwhelm Ginobili. The Spurs most definitely did not see that one coming.
The Spurs had a stellar third-quarter performance to get back in the game after being down 10 at halftime. They outrebounded the Grizzlies 15-5. But down the stretch, the Grizzlies kept making plays by turning over the inexperienced point guard for the Spurs … Tony Parker? (Again, have I mentioned this game was weird?) Parker was stripped on several possessions and when that wasn’t happening, he was throwing it out of bounds.
So, just to recap. We live in a world where the Grizzlies have the advantage in a playoff series, where the Spurs don’t execute down the stretch, where Shane Battier is a beast in the post, and where Tony Parker has trouble in the clutch.
If you guys need me, I’ll be in the basement with bottled water and Spam.