May 25, 2013, 2:01 PM EDT
There have been seven quarters — 84 minutes — of the Western Conference Finals where the Spurs have looked much the better team.
But the last 17 minutes — the fourth quarter and overtime, Memphis erased a 16-point deficit, pushed the game into overtime and made this start to look like the close series we expected going in. San Antonio still won and leads the series 2-0, but things felt different.
So which is it Saturday night in Memphis?
Have the Grizzlies figured it out or are the rested Spurs going to benefit from the Johnny Carson vacation schedule of this series and dominate again?
There are two key things to watch for with this.
1) Can the Grizzlies score when Tim Duncan is on the court? Here’s the reason the Memphis comeback in Game 2 may have been a mirage: It pretty much all happened when Duncan was on the bench. To be fair, he was on the bench because of foul trouble that was the result of having to battle Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph inside, but still he is generally not going to get into this kind of trouble again.
Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw give a good effort, but the fact is Bonner just can’t keep Gasol off the glass. Without Duncan, Memphis was able to get better position for their bigs and play more of their game. But when Duncan has been on the court Memphis has struggled through two games — an offensive rating in the 60s in points per 100 possessions — and they have to solve that puzzle fast or they will be down 3-0.
Memphis has found some success Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter — San Antonio has made it tougher on Memphis inside by essentially ignoring the “threat” of Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince as shooters and zoning off, adding a lot of support inside. Pondexter is 6-of-13 from deep this series and the Spurs have to respect him in the corner, so expect a lot more of him. He’s as good a floor-spacing shooter as the Grizzlies have and they need to create more room for Gasol and Randolph to operate.
2) Can the Grizzlies slow Tony Parker at the point of attack? This is bigger than item No. 1 — Memphis is not going to get back in this series if they don’t find a way to slow down Parker getting into the paint. When that happens and the Spurs are spacing the floor with shooters there is nothing any good defense can do.
During Memphis’ fourth-quarter comeback they didn’t solve the Spurs pick-and-roll at all, San Antonio just missed shots it normally makes. That includes Parker who was 2-of-8 shooting.
They had better solve it now. Parker cannot be allowed to turn the corner and do as he pleases. San Antonio is pretty much running the pick-and-roll with whichever guy Randolph is guarding setting the pick (they don’t want Gasol around the play) and that is allowing Parker to get inside and then kick the ball out — San Antonio is 23-of-54 from beyond the arc this series (42.6 percent).
If San Antonio is allowed to get in the paint, work inside out, and not get run off the three-point line the Spurs are going to get a lot more rest waiting for the NBA Finals to start June 6.
Oct 30, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Warriors shooting guard met starter criteria in game against Kings
Oct 30, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
They wouldn’t be the Suns and Timberwolves, would they?
Oct 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Celtics point guard photographed in T station
Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James
Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Oct 30, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Rough first night in the NBA to be guarded by Tony Allen.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
New owner could recoup money over next 15 years
Oct 30, 2014, 2:45 AM EDT
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Oct 30, 2014, 12:27 AM EDT
Boston tops Brooklyn, 121-105
Oct 29, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Taj Gibson and the second unit took control of this one.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT
While the Lakers were flirting with ‘Melo, the Suns came knocking for Thomas.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
The pride of Long Beach State.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:51 PM EDT
Hornets point guard hits game-winning jumper in overtime against Bucks
Oct 29, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT
Charlotte makes large comeback
Oct 29, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
Oct 29, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
Barea helped Dallas win 2011 championship, but how much does he have left in the tank?
Oct 29, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Young Tom Brady dressed as a Celtic
Oct 29, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
Here’s your chance to see ‘Melo as a knife-wielding henchman.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:27 PM EDT
Boston faces Nets tonight
Oct 29, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT
Expect a suspension from the league to come down on this at some point.
Oct 29, 2014, 5:08 PM EDT
That is two Lakers players out for the season with injuries already.
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