NBA Playoffs: Zach Randolph and the most unlikely Spurs possession ever

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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.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?