AT&T Center — Heading into Game 1 of the 2013 Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs knew Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen was going to be a problem defensively. He came into the series ranked second in the league during the playoffs in steals (2.27) and is the player on the Memphis roster who will routinely defend the opposing team's best player and does a good job of it too.
But unlike playing against an injury-depleted Clippers and Thunder team in the first two rounds, heading into the series against San Antonio, Allen hadn't faced a team with multiple players who can score from the perimeter and get to the rim. In other words, he hadn't faced a team with many offensive options.
Outside of the Spurs' "Big 3," the Spurs can get production from players such as Matt Bonner, Kawhi Leonard, Cory Joseph, Boris Diaw, and Gary Neal to name a few.
In Game 1, Danny Green was the role player to step up big in the Spurs' win. Green finished with 16 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds, and went 3-6 from the three-point line in 25 minutes.
Green's performance in Game 1 certainly caught the attention of Allen who admitted after the game he was surprised by the play of Green considering he was used to guarding the top-player on the court in Memphis' previous two playoff series.
"I think last series kind of put me in discombobulation because I am normally guarding the guy that is 'the guy' and I didn't key in on him (Green) as much as I should have because I was too much worried about Tim Duncan and Tony Parker," said Allen. "It was a situation that I didn't even need to help. My teammates were letting me know that I'm over-helping. I am well aware on why he got going."
Allen should be well aware Green had a strong performnce. Tony's defense was dubious throughout the game as he lost the Spurs' shooters while on the court. His defensive play (or lack there of) was unbecoming of one of the better defensive players this season.
However, it goes beyond Green's play in Game 1 that Memphis should be worried about as this series goes on. The Spurs displayed great execution on both ends of the court, moved the ball well, scored in the paint, knocked down their open shots (including 14 three point shots) and made plays — from all who got time on the court.
As Allen said, he was over-helping on other players, keying on Duncan and Parker and wasn't ready for a team that can trust players to produce beyond their main players. Green made Allen and the Grizzlies play for it in Game 1 and now they realize they have to contend with a loaded Spurs team.
Danny may have thrown off Allen defensively but the Spurs put Memphis in full discombobulation in Game 1. They are playing a battle-tested team, a healthy squad (unlike the Clippers and Thunder) and a team that won't fold under pressure. Not only that, San Antonio kept Zach Randolph contained, and shredded the vaunted Memphis defense (scoring 105 points) which was holding teams to 92.4 points per game in the postseason prior to Game 1.
It may have been just one game but Memphis has been in this position before in the postseason. San Antonio should not take this early 1-0 lead for granted but simply build on what it took to get the win. Memphis will come out swinging in Game 2, and Allen and the Memphis defense will be keeping a closer eye defensively on Green.
Allen is aware he lent to Green's success in Game 1 but even that nor the way Memphis lost didn't stop him from exuding confidence heading into Tuesday's game.
"Our confidence is still sky high. We still believe we can still come here and get a win. We're going to have to grind this next one out," Allen said. "We never thought it was going to be easy coming up into this Game 1 but now we are aware of what they're trying to do and we can make the adjustments."
After scoring 16 points, keying on Green might be an adjustment the Grizzlies and Allen will make in Game 2. However, if Allen doesn't, then Green might once again give Allen a bigger reason to feel discombobulated — his team down 0-2 in the series.