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Tony Parker, Spurs penetration is puzzle Grizzlies can’t solve

May 26, 2013, 1:54 AM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three Getty Images

Mike Conley tried. Tony Allen had some success, particularly late in the game, but even he was not consistent. Jerryd Bayless and everyone else that tried pretty much got torched.

For the third game in a row, Tony Parker’s quickness off the dribble was the thing Memphis really had no answer for, and his penetration into the paint led to more defensive breakdowns. This to a Memphis team that was really rock solid all season. And the result is a Spurs team up 3-0.

After a first quarter to forget (1-of-4 shooting with four turnovers) it was more of the same — 14 of Parker’s 22 shots came inside the paint (or on the low box) in this game. Parker finished with a team-high 26 points. Which actually is sort of what the Grizzlies wanted — they wanted him to shoot contested shots rather than kick out to wide-open shooters on the wings (which killed them the last couple games). But that is a double-edged sword because Parker can score.

And how do you think his five assists came? Actually, no, not drive and kicks. Each time he came off a pick, pulled multiple defenders parallel out with him then hit either someone like Matt Bonner on the pop or Tim Duncan rolling down the lane.

Lionel Hollins can try, but he can’t scheme this away because if his rock star perimeter defender is focused on Parker then Manu Ginobili starts to do his thing (19 points and 5 assists in this game). Hollins doesn’t have the tools to fix it.

There have been flashes of success. Allen had that on Parker in the final three minutes of regulation Saturday (which is why Manu had the ball in his hands).

But it doesn’t last.

San Antonio is smart about how they set this up — the big setting the pick is almost always whoever Zach Randolph is guarding. They have exposed his perimeter defense. But in Game 3 even when it was Marc Gasol’s man who came out, Parker blew past the defensive player of the year a couple times like he was a statue.

Memphis may win Game 4. They certainly have been close the last two games and with a couple breaks this could be a different series.

But they were not going to win it without solving the Parker puzzle. And they are not close.

  1. andrewproughcfe - May 26, 2013 at 2:06 AM

    The NBA has put together an amazing video of Parker’s 18 assists from game 2:

    Crazy stuff. Multiple no-look passes. His mid-air no-look to Splitter under Gasol’s armpit at the 1:42 mark on the video is one of the most amazing assists I’ve ever seen.

  2. yousuxxors - May 26, 2013 at 2:45 AM

    anyone else laugh at that headline? the griz need Conley to be more aggressive. great game but no way in hell are the spurs gonna be the first team to give up a 3-0 lead

  3. funktron2x - May 26, 2013 at 3:03 AM

    Now that Parker is passing it so well, he is the second-most unstoppable player in the league behind only LeBron. Come to think of it, TP is just a really tiny version of LeBron. Out of this universe ability to create own shot. World class handle. Great finisher at the rim. Excellent midrange game grown through years. Penchant for clutch performance.

  4. steelers4385 - May 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Yup. Stupid. Spurs suck. Not literally but they are so annoying. If the heat go, and god wlling they dont…the heat will pound them. Spurs are not built to beat them. Grizzlies are.

    • bucrightoff - May 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      The Heat aren’t even built to beat the Pacers with Sterns help, which is coming in the next few games.

  5. iowahbr - May 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    If last night didn’t show you that the Spurs are a better team than Memphis than there is no point in any further posts.

  6. redbaronx - May 26, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    @steelers4385. I’m not a Spurs fan, but your comment that the Spurs suck may just be the stupidest comment I’ve ever seen on these boards. The Spurs have 4 championship rings with the core of this group, and the young talent they’ve developed the last couple of years to support the older core is talented and mature, and they’re becoming dangerous in their own right. As far as the Heat go:

    A) The Spurs actually have an excellent chance to beat the Heat in a 7 game series. They have the bodies to put on LeBron, Tony Parker who can blow by Wade (even when healthy) or Chalmers, and Ginobili to make their life real difficult off the bench. And if all of that isn’t enough, the Spurs have size to give the Heat even more headaches, just like they’re doing with the Grizzlies. And the Heat don’t even have the size the Grizzlies do. Don’t bet on it that the Heat can beat the Spurs!

    B) It is FAR from certain that the Heat are even going to be the winner of the Pacers / Heat series! In fact, I’m pretty sure that Indiana is going to come out of this series instead of the Heat. If they (Pacers) thought they were just as good as the Heat before, now they’re starting to KNOW it. This team reminds me a lot of the 2004 Pistons that beat the Lakers, and they’re very similar in the effort that they put out to the Chicago Bulls this year. Except Indiana has more weapons….

    C) Your basketball IQ is really in question when you say the Spurs suck. Just because they don’t have a sexy superstar like LeBron doesn’t mean they aren’t a good TEAM. The Spurs are the best fundamentally sound basketball team. Pick and roll. Rebounding. Defending. Driving. The simple old school things that win games.

    So let your Heat jack up 3’s with Ray Allen and co, and let LeBron try to “Hero” his way out of Indiana. You’re in for a reality check my friend. Talent doesn’t always beat good teams!

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