May 19, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs in game one of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT
Game 1 was to put it lightly, a nightmare for one Zach Randolph. His 1 of 8 shooting for 2 points and 7 rebounds was not the start the Memphis Grizzlies were hoping out of their All Star power forward, and during the game the frustration grew more and more evident not only on his face, but the faces of Lionel Hollins and the other players. The immediate reaction after the game by pundits, players, and opponents alike has been, he won’t have that type of game again. Now, I agree with that, Zach Randolph wont average 2 points a game for this series and not go to the free throw line. However, those expecting him to dial back the clock to 2011, and say, ” All they need to do is reestablish Zach and he’ll get his numbers and things flow from there”. While the Grizzlies will look to get him more shots and more points, those points won’t come easy, and all one has to do is point to the regular season 4 games series. However, One man can’t win and makeup all of those points in the playoffs. The playoffs are about who steps up outside of your own big time players. The loss yesterday was definitely a group effort from Memphis, and just pointing at the beleaguered Randolph, is just lazy and unjust.
People continue to have the idea that the Spurs and Memphis have immediately picked up from 2011. “The Spurs will struggle to guard Randolph, they don’t have a big man that can guard him!!!”. The numbers show quite a different story than one wants to remember, when the Spurs matched up in the regular season. Randolph averaged 36% shooting and averaged 14.6 points. Now one may say again, 14.6 points is respectable and good. Whats the problem? Heres where it kills them. In the other four games Mike Conley averaged 15.5 points during the regular season, while Marc Gasol averaged 14.5. All together those three come to almost 45points. Here is where it REALLY kills Memphis. Who else scores for Memphis? Where else do they get their offense from? Darrell Arthur? Tayshaun Prince? Tony Allen? For Memphis to beat the Spurs, they will have to completely shut down everyone outside the big three, and for their big three to average at least 25 points a piece. There is no Shane Battier, there is no Greivis Vazquez or a pre achilles injury Darrell Arthur walking through that door.
Quincy Pondexter was able to in game 1 show he is a threat from the outside making threes and dropping 17 points. However in the regular season, he was non existent scoring 1 lowly point in the one game that he was available for. However Pondexter is not the salvation the Grizzlies need. If they believe so, well, start printing up the Western Champion shirts for the Spurs right now. The Grizzlies salvation is their defense and holding everyone down on the perimeter and keeping Parker out of the paint. Period. That is why exactly this is a good matchup for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs if they’re slowed will score in the 90s, the Grizzlies scored over 92 TWICE against OKC. A team that was thought of before Westbrook’s injury, to be the favorite to exit the Western Conference. That said, OKC was shut down and quite a bit of it was OKC’s lack of a second consistent scorer outside of Kevin Durant. The San Antonio Spurs present a team with 3 superstars, Duncan Parker, Ginobili. However, if Duncan or Ginobili are off their game, the Spurs can look to a Kawhi Leonard, a Danny Green. Memphis will struggle to score, and if their defense works the Spurs will too. However, the Spurs version of struggling will be 94, 92 points. If Memphis struggles its low 80’s. It was said before the series started, and it held true so far through game 1. The defensive mindset was played out, take out one of their big three, force the perimeter players of Prince, Allen, and Bayless to beat them. If the Spurs keep one or two of their big three from getting loose, this series will end, and end quick.After game 1, one must think, the defense for the Spurs works, they’ll just rinse repeat for game 2. If the Spurs bring the same consistent defensive effort inside and out, The Grizzlies will be lucky to get past 88 points. So Lawler’s law says first to 100 wins? In this series, first to 92 may be the victor.