Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

Spurs/Grizzlies preview: Game 2 will be closer, but will that be enough for Memphis?

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Game 2 is not going to look like Game 1.

Memphis is not going to get its doors blown off from the opening tip as happened in their Game 1 loss. You can expect better pick and roll defense out of Memphis. You can also expect better ball movement and more Zach Randolph. You can expect the kinds of adjustments out of Lionel Hollins and his staff that had them losing the first games of the last two series and still going on to advance. You can also expect the Spurs will miss a shot or two, they will not stay as hot shooting (14-of-29 from three) as they did in Game 1.

But will all that be enough against the Spurs remains to be seen?

San Antonio found what worked and it’s on the Grizzlies to raise their level enough in Game 2 in San Antonio Tuesday to get a split in the series.

That has to start on defense, where the Spurs carved up the Grizzlies on the pick-and-roll. Notice that one thing the Spurs did was use whatever big man was not being guarded by Marc Gasol to come up and set the initial pick — San Antonio schemed to keep the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year away from the ball. Smart. It left Randolph and Darrell Arthur as the bigs trying to show out on Parker, or it left Mike Conley trying to fight over the top of the pick. The result was Parker having space, the Grizzlies collapsing on him and ending up in a scramble. Then Memphis paid the price.

On offense, the Grizzlies need more Zach Randolph, but to make that work he may need to start the game as a decoy — other guys will have to hit shots.

The Spurs fronted and denied passing lanes to Randolph, then brought help off of the corners to double him — Memphis never swung the ball quickly to the open men to make them pay. Memphis hesitated and the Spurs defense reset.

They need better ball movement this time and some guys are going to have to knock down outside shots — Tayshaun Prince, we’re looking at you — to space out the floor. Do that, slow the help and Randolph will have room to operate and do damage.

What that all boils down to is you can expect a tougher, grittier, grindier (sure, that’s a word) Memphis team on Tuesday night.

But you can also expect the Spurs to execute like the well-oiled machine they are. They will still share the ball and guys will get looks. And that may still be too much for Memphis (expect Tim Duncan to have more than 6 points this time).

Heat players past, present throw support behind David Fizdale heading to Memphis

David Fizdale
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The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.

It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.

Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.

Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.

Watch Kevin Love drop 25 points on Toronto

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Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.

Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.

Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

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With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.