Thursday night’s final score showed that the San Antonio Spurs only lost by 11 points, but there is no recap that can explain how dominant the Memphis Grizzlies were for 48 minutes to take Game 3.
Before taking a look at how the Spurs can avoid returning to San Antonio with the series tied, let’s look back at what our suggested adjustments were for Game 3.
1) Verdict: Failure – The FedEx Forum was as hostile as can be to the Spurs in Game 3, booing the silver and black mercilessly throughout the game.
The Spurs were 11-10, regular season and playoffs, in Memphis since 2011. That stat seemed misleading because it included a San Antonio team that didn’t have Kawhi Leonard during 2011’s first round disaster, but that’s why we suggested appropriate fear.
Head coach David Fizdale got his way somewhat with the officiating and the crowd provided the remaining fuel to run San Antonio out of the gym.
2) Verdict: Failure – Trying to get under the Grizzlies’ skin again didn’t work. San Antonio won the free throw battle and didn’t get called for as many fouls as the Grizzlies, but Memphis remained unfazed even when calls didn’t go their way.
3) Verdict: Incomplete – Patty Mills got off the schneid in Game 3, finishing with 11 points in 22 minutes. The extra rest may have done him well, but maintaining that kind of output will be crucial if Tony Parker lays an egg again in Game 4.
On the other hand, there’s Manu Ginobili. In 42 minutes over three games, Ginobili is shooting 0-for-10 from the field with zero points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Every single Spurs player has scored at least one point in this series, except for Ginobili and Joel Anthony.
Anthony’s been inactive all three games.
Here are the adjustments on tap for Game 4.
POINT GUARD PLAY
Mills may have regained his spark after a dreadful Game 2, but Tony Parker’s production fell off a cliff in Game 3.
Parker went 0-for-4 after back-to-back double digit scoring performances, going scoreless in a playoff game for only the third time in his career. The last time Parker went scoreless in the postseason? Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers, when he went 0-for-2 in 10 minutes as the Spurs cruised to a 22-point series-clinching victory.
San Antonio’s best chance at winning beyond Game 4 will rely on the backcourt tandem of Parker and Mills to be effective, which neither guard was against Mike Conley. The Spurs were 1-for-8 from the field with three turnovers when facing Conley as the primary defender.
As stated above, Spurs guards committed three turnovers against Conley throughout the night. The Grizzlies as a team had five turnovers the entire game. Not only were the five turnovers the lowest Memphis has had in a game all year, but it’s the lowest amount of turnovers they’ve had against the Spurs in any game since the Vancouver Grizzlies committed six turnovers in a loss to the Spurs in 1997.
Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, San Antonio’s two best defenders, combined for a +/- of -22, with zero steals and only one block. The Spurs as a team only had one steal, which happened on a poor bounce pass by Conley to Marc Gasol at the end of the first quarter. Mills received credit for the steal.
The last time San Antonio had one or fewer steals in a game, was against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The Spurs lost by 21 points and ironically enough, Mills would record the only steal in that game as well.
Out of 28 free throw attempts, the Spurs made only 16 of them, for a grand total of 57 percent. That’s a full 20 percent lower than San Antonio’s regular season average. You’ve got to make your free throws. Because if not, it’s going to cost you.