Coming off of a lopsided victory in game one on Sunday, the San Antonio Spurs look to keep their defensive clamps on a Memphis Grizzlies team that has an unlikely shot of winning game two at the AT&T Center Tuesday.
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Kawhi Leonard led a defense that tormented Memphis in game one. Leonard on Monday was named the 2016 NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. The impact he has on the floor on the defensive end was imminent on Sunday. Leonard was getting into the heads of the Grizzlies players, not by trash talking but by his play.
Leonard held Matt Barnes to two points on 1-for-7 shooting. Not stopping there, Leonard even blocked Zach Randolph shot in the first quarter as the Spurs ran a number of double teams at the only remaining player among the Grizzlies’ top three scorers, with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley out for the season.
The stifling defense from Leonard trickled down to the rest of the team. San Antonio held Randolph to six points on 3-for-13 shooting after the veteran power forward had averaged 18.6 over his last 11 regular-season contests.
Vince Carter who finished with a team-high 16 points sees the great on-ball instincts that Leonard has. “He’s in passing lanes, he has great on-ball instincts, great hands and he blocks shots very well at his position as well,” Memphis swingman Vince Carter said. “He’s just relentless, and he really gets their defense started.”
Heading into game two, San Antonio’s starters should be well-rested after sitting out the fourth quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge is dealing with a sore pinkie finger after dislocating it April 7, while Boris Diaw is nursing a sore right abductor.
Aldridge had 17 points and Tony Parker and Patty Mills contributed 15 apiece for San Antonio, who shot 68 percent while breaking Game 1 open by outscoring Memphis 33-14 in the third quarter. The Spurs shot 51.9 percent overall, made 10 of 23 from 3-point range and owned a 44-35 advantage on the glass.
Spurs and Grizzlies tip-off at 9:30 Eastern on TNT.