The San Antonio Spurs are just hours away from game two against the Memphis Grizzlies, and we’ve called on Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue once again to ask him some pregame questions. I also answered a few of Chip’s questions, which you can find at 3 Shades of Blue.
1. Does the thought that Memphis had to play nearly perfect against a Spurs team without Manu Ginobili worry you a bit?
Memphis didn’t come close to playing a perfect game. They were in serious foul trouble from the beginning. They didn’t score in the paint as much as they usually do (they average 54 points a night in the paint but only scored 40 points in game 1). Mike Conley and Tony Allen weren’t scoring well. Mayo was 2-9 from inside the arc. The team was 21-33 from the line. They only had two steals as a team. The refs called enough fouls against the Grizzlies to send San Antonio to the line 47 times. They turned the ball over 16 times which is more than average for the Grizzlies on the season and in the previous games against San Antonio. All in all it was far from a near perfect game.
That doesn’t mean the return of Manu Ginobili doesn’t concern me or the Grizzlies. Manu is a special player who is very effective scoring the ball and an excellent defensive presence. If he is healthy he should have a huge impact on the game. Whenever Manu is on the floor he makes the Spurs a better team. His influence will be huge. Tony Allen can’t afford to get into early foul trouble like he did in game 1. The Grizzlies will need to be even more diligent at protecting the arc on defense. They will need to improve their ball control because those sloppy passes won’t just be turnovers with Manu in the game. Manu will turn them into buckets. The thing to remember now is Memphis is the underdog as the 8th seed. They have already won a road game and now have merely to win at home (where the Grizzlies were 30-11 this season) to win the series. Memphis has nothing to worry about against a team as strong as the Spurs. If they lose it is expected. San Antonio is the team under pressure right now not the Grizzlies. The Spurs have lost three consecutive games now and have lost three straight to Memphis. Perhaps the question should be is San Antonio worrying after losing a game where they shot 47 free throws, won the rebounding battle and held Zach Randolph without a single offensive rebound considering their recent struggles?
2. How does Manu change things for the Grizzlies in game planning for game two?
I don’t believe Manu changes things for the Grizzlies in game planning because the Grizzlies planned on Manu playing in Game 1. If anything the team should be better prepared for the Spurs if he does play. Manu played in all four games against Memphis this season and the teams split the season series. In fact if not for Tony Parker’s sensational game in December Memphis would have won the season series. If anything Manu’s return will probably aid Tony Allen and the Grizzlies defensive game plan. It seemed Tony was lost for most of Game 1 because he was so consumed with stopping Manu that he didn’t know what to do against Hill. This season Manu has shot 41.9% against the Grizzlies and averaged 15.3 ppg. If Tony Allen can contain him in a similar manner in Game 2 then the Grizzlies should be in great shape in the game. What will change is how the Grizzlies use O J Mayo in the game. The Grizzlies were able to play Conley and Mayo together in the backcourt against Hill and Parker. Ginobili on the court will likely restrict Mayo’s minutes. Mayo will likely not play 30 minutes in this game unless Allen gets into foul trouble again. Mayo is an excellent offensive player and has been improving on defense somewhat. Yet, if Ginobili is healthy and can get Allen into foul trouble early that would be an advantage for the Spurs.
3. Tim Duncan played at a level he had not been at all year. Do the Grizzlies let him go to work and stop some of the other shooters or focus on him?
Duncan played at a high level in the first half. He didn’t play that well in the 2nd half. He scored four points in the second half and they all came in the first 3 minutes of the 3rd quarter. From that point on Duncan was held without a basket, went 1-1 from the line, grabbed 2 defensive rebounds, 2 offensive rebounds and turned the ball over 3 times. He was unstoppable in the first half but very human in the second. The question now is can Duncan go more than 30 minutes against the Grizzlies big men without wearing out? I believe the Grizzlies don’t double Duncan and let him get his but deny the rest of the perimeter players their opportunities at open shots. Duncan is not able to carry a team on his back like he could when he was 28 or younger. The Grizzlies have size and depth to contain Duncan.
4. Zach Randolph, as we all expected, was an issue for the Spurs. After game one, who did you think defended him best and who has the best chance at limiting him a bit in game two?
I know Duncan defended Zach the best. The problem is that Duncan can’t stay on Z-Bo because San Antonio has no one to counter Gasol if that happens. Gasol played poorly against San Antonio during the regular season but his game has been improving all season and right now he is about at his best level ever. Putting a smaller defender on Gasol is not advisable but could be the route the Spurs take. Assuming that the Spurs don’t go that route then I felt DeJuan Blair was most effective. He is a strong rebounder who can stay with the effort Z-Bo puts out. Not many players can do that consistently. Bonner is no match for Randolph on defense but causes certain problems on the offensive end with his range. Splitter seems to be a nice player to throw at Gasol and put Duncan on Z-Bo but Coach Pops chose not to use him and he’s a lot smarter than me.
5. Do you expect the Grizzlies to get past the Spurs again or will the Spurs bounce back?
The Grizzlies are the 8th seed for a reason and it’s not simply because they lost their last two games of the regular season. San Antonio has been the best team in the league all season because they know how to win games. Memphis hasn’t proven they can win more than one game in 13 much less win a series. Only a fool would assume the Grizzlies will win again in San Antonio.
The thing to watch for in game 2 is how are the fouls going. If the Grizzlies are allowed to play their style of defense, like they have all season long, then San Antonio could be in trouble. Memphis committed 33 fouls in game 1 but that resulted in 47 FT attempts. San Antonio’s starting backcourt shot 6-23 from the field but went to the line 29 times. Memphis had 27 fouls called against them but only went to the line 33 times. The Grizzlies 6 additional fouls resulted in 14 additional free throws for San Antonio and Memphis was the team scoring in the paint. The Spurs made 15 more free throws than the Grizzlies in game 1. Where will San Antonio make up those points if the FTs even out especially if Memphis has a normal night scoring in the paint?
I think this is an exciting series and every game should be close just like they were in the regular season but San Antonio is at home, has more experience and is regaining one of their best players. I think anything other than a Spurs win will be very shocking.
I want to thank you guys for letting me have a brief return to the Bloquin network. 3 Shades of Blue was an original member of the network and we really love what you guys are doing.