Tag: Memphis San Antonio

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antionio Spurs - Game Five

NBA Playoffs: Spurs miracle staved off elimination once. Got another?


The San Antonio Spurs are here. Still playing. Manu Ginobili hit a wild shot. Gary Neal hit the thrilling game saver to force overtime. Tony Parker morphed into Tony Parker circa 2005 in the overtime. San Antonio staved off elimination Wednesday in dramatic fashion.

But it did not change the underlying issues in this series. The things that put the Grizzlies up 3-1 in this series are still there heading into Game 6 in Memphis Friday night (Memphis is now up 3-2). So long as the Grizzlies stay true to who they are — as they have through the first five games — it may take another San Antonio miracle to force a Game 7. And it’s hard to survive on miracles.

Memphis still has Zach Randolph and the Spurs still have no good answer for that. Mark Gasol and Mike Conley continue to be rock solid, consistent every game. Memphis continues to defend the corner three well (the Spurs are shooting 2.4 fewer of their bread-and-butter shots per game and are hitting 39 percent, down fro 42 percent in the regular season). The Spurs are shooting just 31 percent from three overall in the series. Memphis continues to own the paint. And the boards.

And now Memphis goes home. With the chance to close out the franchise’s first ever playoff series win in front of their home crown in a legendary upset. They are going to bring it hard.

At this point in a series there are no more surprise coaching adjustments, it’s simply execution. The Spurs are going to need the Manu Ginobili from Game 5 — 33 points on 18 shots — and the Parker from overtime of that game to pull off the win. The Spurs will need Tim Duncan to jump in the hot tub time machine for a night because this older one struggles against the Grizzlies twin big men. San Antonio cannot count on end of game heroics. Not this time.

San Antonio needs to find the Spurs from December, the ones whose offensive execution ripped everyone apart. Otherwise this will be the last stand for the West’s top seed this season.

Video: Gary Neal’s three to save the Spurs season

Gary Neal

The San Antonio Spurs are still alive in the playoffs right now, living to fight another day.

Thanks to Gary Neal. A rookie. He did what seemingly countless veteran Spurs have done before him and made the big play — in this case a three to send Game 5 to overtime. Where the Spurs prevailed and made the series 3-2 Memphis.

Memphis defends this play well — San Antonio clearly wants to go to George Hill in the corner, but that is covered. Neal gets the ball and needs to take a dribble to get a decent look.

But all that matters is it fell. And the Spurs are still alive and headed to Memphis for Game 6.

Antonio McDyess: “We’re playing like a bunch of wussies”

San Antionio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Four

Memphis came into this series a tough matchup for San Antonio — the Spurs want to control the paint and take away those three pointers opponents like to shoot.

Except the Grizzlies don’t really shoot threes and have more size and skill in the paint than the Spurs.

And they are more physical. In the paint with the Memphis bigs for sire, and on the wings Tony Allen and Mike Conley have followed the Grizzlies style. They pushed and the Spurs… well, Antonio McDyess characterized the Spurs response this way to the News-Express Spurs blog.

“We’re playing like a bunch of wussies,” McDyess said.

That analysis didn’t meet with much disagreement, not after the Grizzlies pummeled the Spurs 56-36 in the second half to assume a 3-1 series lead…

“They put their foot on our throat and never let up,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Popovich finally tried to use some size to counter the Grizzlies, throwing Tiago Splitter in Game 4, but by then it was too little, too late.

San Antonio won a lot of games this season because either Richard Jefferson played well (or well enough) or when that didn’t work they went to a three-guard lineup with a lot of Gary Neal and George Hill. Their big man off the bench was three-point specialist Matt Bonner, but he was draining good looks in the regular season. It may have been fools gold. In the playoffs, where the larger teams live, size was going to matter. It has mattered. And the Spurs don’t have a counter.

The Spurs ran into a Grizzlies team that in the playoffs has been allowed to play a physical game. San Antonio got punched in the mouth. And then…

Well, ask McDyess.

Video: O.J. Mayo with the baseline reverse dunk

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns
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It wasn’t just that Memphis won Game 4 and took a 3-1 lead over the San Antonio Spurs, it was how.

The Grizzlies bullied them. They were more physical. In boxing/MMA terms, they punched San Antonio in the mouth and San Antonio has stepped back.

Maybe the signature play of the game was this O.J. Mayo dunk. It shows you how aware Zach Randolph is with the ball, this was a fantastic assist with a great finish at the rim. And the Spurs could do nothing about it.

NBA Playoffs: Must win game for Spurs against Grizzlies? Yup.

Memphis Grizzlies' Randolph celebrates his team's win over the San Antonio Spurs during their NBA basketball game in Memphis
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If the fact Rebecca Black has a hit was not proof enough we live in a Bizzaro World, I bring you this:

The San Antonio Spurs must beat the Memphis Grizzlies tonight on the road, or their path out of the playoffs is as slippery as a Slip ‘n Slide.

Win and the series is 2-2 heading back home to San Antonio. Lose and Memphis has a commanding 3-1 lead in a series where they have been the more physical team.

We said coming into this series that it could be tough on San Antonio because it was a bad matchup — what the Spurs want to do is shoot three pointers or get their buckets in the paint, and stop you from doing those very two things.

Problem is, outside of Richard Jefferson (10-for-18) nobody on the Spurs is knocking down threes — they are shooting 32 percent as a team (down from 39 percent in the regular season).

And Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have dominated the paint. On both ends. Memphis is still getting quality points from its big men — they have combined to average 37.7 points per game this series — and Memphis is owning the offensive glass. As for the Spurs defending the three, the Grizzlies don’t really care about that anyway. They don’t shoot many.

At some point, the Spurs are going to have to drop the extra defender into the paint and give up the perimeter shots. That may cost them, but they are not winning the way things are going now.

If the Spurs are going to win this, their guards are going to have to dominate. Tony Parker is shooting 34 percent for the series and being held in check by Mike Conley. Manu Ginobili has been good attacking and getting to the line, he has created chances, but he has got to knock down more than 20 percent of his threes and 40 percent of his shots overall.

For the first half of the season, the Spurs were the best team in basketball. They are not that team right now, the execution on the offensive end that made them so impressive has gone missing. Their three point shooting is on walkabout. The Grizzlies have taken away and contested the corner three that the Spurs so dearly love and San Antonio has not made them pay for that with buckets in the paint.

These are the Spurs. It’s been a while since the glory years but you still expect the execution, them beating you how they want to beat you. Not this series. The Grizzlies have dictated the terms and played it their way. Physical.

That will change Monday night, or the Spurs are on the Slip ‘n Slide right out of the playoffs.