Preview: What Memphis has to do to extend its season

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Unfortunately Memphis, we know how this movie is going to end. No team in NBA history has ever come back from 3-0 down in a best-of-seven series and the Grizzlies just do not have the firepower to change that trend.

But that doesn’t mean the season has to end Monday night.

Memphis has taken the last two games to overtime; they are fully capable of a win in this series. Heck, maybe they should already have one. Here are the three things they need to keep their series alive until at least Wednesday night.

1) Slow down Tony Parker (and Tim Duncan, too). A lot easier said than done. But this has been the real issue in the series, the Spurs stars have found ways to score and break down a good defense. For the first two games Tony Parker was coming off the pick and getting into the lane at will. Memphis adjusted and did better with that in Game 3 pressuring Parker, but San Antonio adjusted as well and started having pick-and-pop Tim Duncan rolling hard to the rim. It was unexpected but it continued to give San Antonio what it needed — a guy in the paint making plays. It was key to their comeback

Parker was in attack mode in Game 3’s second half and either got into the lane himself or made the smart pass to the open man. San Antonio had a counter for the Grizzlies big move. Now how does Memphis respond — they need to keep Parker or Duncan from getting the ball into the paint and making plays.

2) Somebody knock down some outside shots. Please. Memphis has shot just 38.4 percent this series and that has a cumulative effect — Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have less room to operate because defenders pack the paint on them, and Memphis can’t make San Antonio pay a price for leaving guys on the perimeter. Quincy Pondexter has had some success and gotten San Antonio’s attention but the Spurs have ignored most of the Grizzlies shooters and instead worked on fronting the post making life difficult.

The Grizzlies have had better success earlier in the clock this series, rather than letting San Antonio set its defense, so picking up the pace would be a good start.

But part of this falls to the Memphis big men — they need to establish position, demand the ball then do something with it. It would help if they could get Duncan into foul trouble, also, the Spurs defense isn’t nearly as good when he sits.

3) Stay calm and carry on. You are in a tough spot and you know at some point Monday night the Spurs are going to make a run. Get a big lead and they will walk you down, as they did in Game 3. You have to keep playing and executing your plan — don’t try to do too much. And don’t accept what is coming as inevitable. Even if we all think it is. You need to play desperate yet not be rattled.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.