May 27, 2013, 11:49 AM EDT
There are certain things Tony Allen does. Play his pregame music at deafening volume, for one. Watch a lot of film to gain a defensive edge, for another.
Allen is even trying to watch some film during games against the Spurs to gain an edge.
At every timeout, Tony Allen did the same thing. The Memphis Grizzlies were gathering at their bench, forming a semi-circle around coach Lionel Hollins, but Allen walked away from his team and toward the other team. Toward the Spurs…
I watched this happen twice. But for the third timeout, I looked away from Allen, toward the Spurs’ bench. What was he staring at? What were they doing down there, anyway?
And then I saw it. This big TV screen, maybe 35 inches, sitting at midcourt. It was the screen used by the referees to study replays, and it was aimed at the Grizzlies’ bench. The Spurs’ bench was behind the TV, but it dawned on me: Allen wasn’t watching the Spurs; he was watching the TV. He was watching the replays.
As you likely know, television broadcasts are on a several second delay from real time. And as you also know, before a broadcast goes to timeout there is almost always a replay of a recent key play shown as the broadcasters give the score and say they will be right back.
Allen was watching those replays looking for an edge. You have got to love that. It’s a great story.
Unfortunately for him, the edge the Grizzlies need in this series can’t be found on tape. As well as Memphis has played, their need for perimeter shooting has been greatly exposed this series as the Spurs have all but ignored Allen and Tayshaun Prince on the wings to provide more support inside. The Grizzlies have tried to counter with Quincy Pondexter, but that brings other concerns. (And don’t say that’s where the Grizzlies miss Rudy Gay — he shot 32 percent from three this season and the Spurs would gladly have let him take his mediocre outside shot all game long.)
But Allen is still the kind of guy you want on your team — a ferocious defender who is always looking for an edge. Which is why the Grizzlies need to find a way to bring the unrestricted free agent back.