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.