Skip to content

Spurs show they have too much offense for Grizzlies to handle in Game 1 destruction

May 19, 2013, 10:01 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs guard Green shoots against Memphis Grizzlies guard Conley during the first half of Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference final playoff basketball game in San Antonio

In getting to the Western Conference Finals, the Grizzlies played two teams that couldn’t put together solid execution on the offensive end of the floor anywhere near consistently over the course of those playoff series.

A lot of the credit for that goes to the Memphis defense, of course. But in the first round, the Clippers relied too heavily on Chris Paul creating, and in the second round, the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook, and their offense was extremely one-dimensional with Kevin Durant being the only player that the Grizzlies needed to focus their efforts on stopping.

In this series against the Spurs, Memphis is facing a much more formidable opponent on the offensive end of the floor than they have to this point in these playoffs. And the results, at least during a 105-83 Game 1 shellacking, were cause for legitimate concern even after just one contest.

San Antonio has a roster loaded with players who understand how to run the team’s system to perfection, and they cycle through options effortlessly if the first one is stopped by the defense. There was a play very early in the game that illustrated this.

Tony Parker brought the ball up and tried the right side of the floor to begin his team’s possession. Danny Green popped out to the corner and received the pass, but with Tony Allen closely defending, he flipped it immediately back to Parker. Green doesn’t stand, however, he keeps moving, and cuts to the top of the arc to receive the pass so the Spurs can get into another one of their sets.

Parker then curls baseline all the way under the basket and around to the other side of the floor behind three staggered screens to attempt to free him from his defender. He receives the pass at the left elbow and initiates his dribble, before Tiago Splitter steps out to run a screen and roll. As both defenders stay with Parker, Splitter rolls and receives a perfect bounce pass from his point guard. Marc Gasol had to collapse to prevent the layup, which left Tim Duncan wide open from about eighteen feet out. Splitter makes the pass, and Duncan calmly drains the shot just as the shot clock expires.

That’s a lot to deal with defensively, and it’s much more than the Grizzlies have had to worry about recently.

It takes plenty of discipline to be perfect in your rotations, and the Grizzlies were without it for large stretches during their Game 1 loss. It’s one of the reason the Spurs were able to get loose for so many open looks from three-point distance, where they were able to shoot 14-of-29 for the game from downtown.

But make no mistake, that was by no means a fluky shooting performance or a random occurrence — the Spurs finished fourth in the league during the regular season in three-point shooting percentage, tied with the New York Knicks. We know they can knock down those shots at an above-average rate; the way the Grizzlies defended just gave them more opportunities than the Spurs are used to, and they were able to take advantage.

Memphis is typically a strong defensive team that can do a much better job in limiting its opponents. If there’s a bright side moving forward in this series, it’s that Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins believed a lot of what he saw was correctable.

“Tony Parker came out really aggressive, and then in pick and rolls we weren’t up where we were supposed to be,” Hollins said. “And he just beat us sometimes. And when Matt Bonner came in the game, he would set a screen and drag somebody away and we never got back.

“The main thing, we just over-helped. We were so hyper just running all over the place on defense. We’d have four guys in the paint, and then nobody would be out on the perimeter guarding anybody. And that’s not how we play defense.”

It’s true the Grizzlies defended much better in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs, but they weren’t faced with a team like the Spurs that executes to perfection for extended stretches, either. Memphis will make adjustments, and can be confident in remembering how they turned out to be just fine after dropping Game 1 in each of their two previous series victories. It will be much tougher this time to come back, however, given the precision with which the Spurs run their offense.

Latest Posts
  1. Gary Payton on becoming an assistant coach: “I’m getting interested now”

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

    Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference

    As tight as he is with Kidd, do you really think Payton would choose Milwaukee over Los Angeles?

  2. Bucks sign Jerryd Bayless, Johnny O’Bryant

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Jerryd Bayless Jerryd Bayless

    Milwaukee, with Damien Inglis in limbo, now facing roster crunch

  3. Chandler Parsons, James Harden patch things up

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Chandler Parsons, James Harden Chandler Parsons, James Harden

    Like most “feuds,” once two rational people sit down and talk for a minute, everything dissipates.

  4. Kevin Durant says he’s deleting Twitter from his phone

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    That means he’s signing with the Wizards, right?

  5. Report: Will Cherry to sign with Raptors

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Montana v Syracuse Getty Images

    Barring another move, Toronto down to one roster spot for Lucas Nogueira or DeAndre Daniels

  6. Anthony Davis steps into spotlight, is Team USA’s lynchpin

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Practice Getty Images

    “We think he’s one of the top players in the league and we need for him to be that five that nobody has.” —Mike Krzyzewski on Anthony Davis

  7. Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Palmer to marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine

  8. Kings sign undrafted Eric Moreland

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Tarik Black, Eric Moreland Tarik Black, Eric Moreland

    Former Oregon State standout impresses with shot-blocking ability

  9. Jeremy Lin goes Hollywood in new video

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Jeremy Lin Jeremy Lin

    Jeremy Lin in a full-blown dance number. You know you want to see that.

  10. Kyle Korver once traded for summer-league expenses and a copier

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v New Jersey Nets Chicago Bulls v New Jersey Nets

    Hawks forward, now trying out for Team USA World Cup team, has come a long way

  11. Chris Bosh makes it official, signs five-year, $118 million deal with Miami

    Jul 30, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6 Getty Images

    “His unique skill set makes him one of the best players in the game today.” —Pat Riley on Chris Bosh, who still is overpaid.

  12. Pat Riley says he didn’t think LeBron was leaving, Heat can turn around quickly

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT

    Pat Riley Pat Riley

    Pat Riley got beat in free agency, and he doesn’t take losing well.

  13. Magic Johnson: Jerry Buss wanted Byron Scott to coach the Lakers

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Byron Scott Getty Images

    Scott, not Mike Brown, would have followed Phil Jackson

  14. Coach K on Rose: “Derrick’s played great, not good, and hasn’t held anything back”

    Jul 30, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    “He’s playing out of his mind. He’s being Derrick Rose.” —Anthony Davis on Rose.

  15. Report: Longtime referee Dick Bavetta retiring

    Jul 30, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

    Dick Bavetta Dick Bavetta

    NBA reportedly wanted Bavetta to retire four years ago

  16. Report: Lakers work out Michael Beasley

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat Getty Images

    The elicits a shrug of the shoulders. Not much else.

  17. Kevin Durant anoints Anthony Davis MVP-in-waiting

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:29 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant

    Thunder star texted Davis after winning the award last season: ‘You on your way to get it’

  18. Notes from Team USA Camp in Las Vegas: Nobody is a fan of the FIBA balls

    Jul 30, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant, Chandler Parsons AP

    “Guys that don’t have a reputation for playing hard defense are picking up full court.” —Damian Lillard on the level of play at Team USA training camp.

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (5081)
  2. L. James (4459)
  3. K. Love (3974)
  4. D. Rose (3654)
  5. C. Anthony (2803)
  1. K. Bryant (2710)
  2. R. Allen (2615)
  3. J. Nelson (2435)
  4. B. Griffin (2167)
  5. C. Boozer (2007)