Manu Ginobili is back. With a rather cumbersome looking brace on his sprained right elbow, but he is back.
And that could make Game 2 between the Grizzlies and Spurs a lot different than Game 1.
In the first game, the Grizzlies focused their defensive efforts on Tony Parker (4-of-12 shooting), tried hard to stop kick-outs to three-point shooters (even if it meant fouling) and dared Gary Neal and George Hill to beat them in the midrange. They Spurs as a team shot just 21 percent (7-of-33) on midrange shots. Good looks that normally fall for San Antonio clanked out.
This game will be different. Ginobili changes how the Grizzlies have to defend on the perimeter, particularly on the pick-and-roll, and they can expect better shooting from the Spurs.
Memphis still has a real chance, because they can be dominant with their big men. Last game Marc Gasol was 9-of-10 and Zach Randolph could not miss a midrange jumper. That matchup will not change, but the Grizzlies need to get similar, monster effort from their big men. Yes, the Spurs have that Duncan guy (and he was big in Game 1) but inside is where Memphis has to own this series.
The Grizzlies also have O.J. Mayo and Shane Battier, who can have big games. Battier really did, posting up smaller Spurs guards most of the game then draining the game winning three.
Expect a much better game from the Spurs. We’ll see if it’s a game with as many fouls and free throws as Game 1 (80 trips to the line combined), as that also seemed to throw the Spurs off their rhythm.
Game 1 was huge for Memphis and it’s confidence, but Game 2 is a lot more what this series is going to look like.
Karl-Anthony Towns shoots down trade rumors, and was that a dig at Jimmy Butler?
So Towns tried to do that after Friday night’s game — and takes a little dig at Jimmy Butler in the process. Via Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.
“I think you’ve been around me long enough to know I don’t go for all the s***,” Towns said. “I just do my job, go home and I know what the real story is. There’s a reason those stories are made because people need to sell papers, sell links and clicks, whatever the case may be. I’m here to be a Minnesota Timberwolf. Very fortunate I have a head coach like [Ryan Saunders], a President and friend like [Gersson Rosas]. I’m not worried about all that nonsense.
“Whatever we have to deal with in house, we’ll deal with in house, but this ain’t the circus like it used to be. This is something that’s going to be done as a family. If we have a problem or anything, we’ll deal with it internally. We won’t have any external forces here adding anything.”
The circus/family comments are clearly a little dig at Jimmy Butler.
The circus was at the start of the 2018-19 season, when Butler wanted out of Minnesota and went full diva to create a massive distraction and force then coach/GM Tom Thibodeau’s hand. Butler was traded to the Sixers, and then last summer left Philadelphia for Miami (where he has played at an All-NBA level). Butler may not have loved how he perceived Towns (and, more so, Andrew Wiggins) commitment to the game, but Towns was no fan of how Butler handled his business. Towns doesn’t like things dealt with that publicly.
Towns was playing at an All-NBA level himself this season before his injury, including shooting 41.5 percent on 8.5 threes a game — KAT has been an offensive force. Rosas, however, has a lot of work to do to build a quality team around Towns. Towns committed to Minnesota with this new contract and, while he may be frustrated with the losing this season, he’s not going Anthony Davis.
A couple of years from now… who knows? That’s a couple of lifetimes away in the NBA. Until then, teams will monitor Towns’ situation and mood, he will shoot down trade rumors, and the cycle will go on.
Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)
Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:
Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling: