The San Antonio Spurs are on the verge of elimination as they trail the Memphis Grizzlies 3-1 in the series.
Through this series the Grizzlies have exploited the Spurs most glaring weakness, which is size. The size is evident with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Aside from Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess, the Spurs other answers are Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair and rookie Tiago Splitter (Splitter played well in game five scoring 10-points and nine rebounds).
We know height/size is an issue. But what about other weaknesses the Spurs have? I’m here to look at some of the other weaknesses and see how they can improve to win and stay alive in the series.
Before Monday nights game, the Spurs were averaging just 14 turnovers per game in the series. On Monday night, turnovers fueled the Grizzlies 30-point third quarter to blow the game open.
Memphis had eight steals in the game. Tony Parker had more turnovers (7) than he did assists (1) and rebounds (3) combined. Duncan, Ginobili and Hill all had two turnovers each.
The Spurs shot a higher percentage than Memphis through the majority of game four. They even held Memphis’ two best players to 20-points combined. Parker played well with 23-points. One would assume that would be a recipe for success. But the Spurs’ 17-turnovers ended up outweighing their positives.
The Grizzlies are a very patient ball club. They rely on their defense and low post scoring to keep them going throughout the game. They don’t beat themselves. It’s almost as if the old Spurs have switched places with the Grizzlies.
In order for the Spurs to have a chance at winning game five, they will need to limit their turnovers.
You’d never think in the Gregg Popovich and “Big 3” era execution would be a concern. But through four games into the playoffs, the Spurs have lost two of them because of poor execution late in games.
The first came in game one as the Spurs held a four point lead with 1:06 remaining. They failed to execute and the Grizzlies finished off beating them with a 7-0 run.
The second came in game three as the Spurs had a chance to tie the game. Hill inbounded the ball and instead of calling timeout, ran the play up court to Ginobili who did nothing but run out the shot clock.
After reviewing the play you see Duncan as the only player on the floor calling for timeout, Hill andBonner were signaling for Ginobili to pass to them so they could shoot. After the game, Coach Popovich admitted that he should have called timeout when Hill inbounded the play.
Poor exectution in playoff games is something that needs to be addressed and if the Spurs are to win game five, they need to hone in on their past experience and figure out a way to close game out more effectively.
Aside from Hill; DeJuan Blair, Bonner (27% 3PT), and Gary Neal (33% 3PT) have all been non-existent on offense and all three have been exploited as liabilities on defense.
Blair didn’t get much playing time in game four as Splitter gained his minutes, but when he is in he needs to make an impact being a trailer on the fast break or on the screen-n-roll.
Though three point opportunities are scarce against Memphis, there are still shots available. Bonner and Neal need to make an impact by making the one’s that are being presented.
How Can This Help in Game Five?
If the Spurs can get a strong showing from the “Big 3”, make shot attempts as difficult as possible for Randolph and Gasol, limit turnovers, get steady bench production and execute late in the game, then they have a chance at a game five win.
That is how tough this Grizzlies team is. It’ll take completion of major objectives to defeat them and keep this series alive.