After winning game one of their opening round series with the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins couldn’t be happier with his team. The Grizzlies are up 3-1 and will be looking for the knockout blow tonight against the Spurs in game five.
So what was propelled this young Grizzlies team to have so much confidence versus the top seed on the West? Hollins says it was winning game one:
“I think winning that first game gave us confidence and I told them, ‘if you don’t think you can play with this team after tonight then something is wrong with you.’ We played a pretty good game the second game, they got the win and made some big plays, but we’ve just been growing and believing more and more that we can if we keep doing the things that we are capable of doing.”
However, Hollins did have some concerns heading into this series against the Spurs:
“Their three point shooting and their perimeter people penetrating. They have pretty much three playmakers and they have two others that can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket as well. You start out with Ginobili, Parker, and George Hill, then you add Richard Jefferson and (Gary) Neal. If you run them off the three point line they put the ball on the floor and go make a play for somebody. Then they have Tim Duncan inside, old reliable. We just came out with an emphasis that we’re not going to give up open threes. We were going to try and run them off the three point line, just keep scrambling, and if we had to switch we would switch, do whatever we need to do to take away their three point shooting and not letting them get in a rhythm. Another key for that was us executing offensively and not turning the ball over so that they could get out and run. It’s where they really hurt you penetrating and dishing out to the three point shooters as you try to help.”
He also spoke on whether Marc Gasol was roughing up Spurs’ Tim Duncan:
“He’s not looking to rough up Duncan. We play physical and when the shot goes up it’s the big man’s job to box out the other big man. They are doing the same thing with Zach Randolph because that’s what he does best, that’s what Duncan does best. Even with all of that, last night I think was the first time that we won the rebounding battle in the series. We have to continue to out-rebound them and we have been a good rebounding team all year long but so are the Spurs. We have to do a job of rebounding and continue it through the rest of the series.”
As the clock ticks down to tonight’s tipoff, many Spurs fans hope tonight will not be an abrupt end to the Spurs’ season. For Hollins, it will mark the next step for this young Memphis team. For the Spurs, it will mark what could quite be the final step of the Spurs’ dominance in the NBA.