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 snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.