Game 3 shifts back to Memphis on Friday night, but it’s going to take a lot more than home-court advantage for the Memphis Grizzlies to play with the San Antonio Spurs.
After an absolute clinic by the league’s best defensive team in over a decade, Memphis is in need of help as
“We’ve got to still execute”. – Leonard on Spurs Committing 19 Turnovers
they have lost the first two games of the series by an average of 29 points. The second-seeded Spurs’ 96.6 defensive rating during the regular season was the best in the West since 2004-05 NBA champion San Antonio (95.8), and it’s only improving in the postseason.
Just how good have the Spurs been? Memphis is the first playoff team held under 75 points in consecutive games. Grizzlies are showing just how much the injuries to Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are affecting the team. Conley in the playoffs for his career averages just under 16 points a game while Gasol is around the same mark, at 16.9.
What is more disturbing for not only Memphis but the rest of the playoff teams is the amount of rest that Gregg Popovich is able to give his starters because of the way his team has handled and protected home court the first two games. On Tuesday, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker sat out the entire fourth quarter, while Tim Duncan and Danny Green made brief appearances.
The Spurs are hitting 48.7 percent from 3-point range, their reserves are outscoring the Grizzlies’ starters by an average of 50-34, and San Antonio is left nitpicking what it needs to do better.
Though San Antonio is dominating on the defensive end, offensively there is still work that needs to be done. Yes their average win margin is 29 points, but looking deeper into the stats, the Spurs had 19 turnovers on Tuesday. If they plan on going deeper into the playoffs, they need to take care of the ball. Granted, turning the ball over against a Memphis team that is struggling with scoring may not be a bad thing, but once you get to the teams like Oklahoma City or Golden State, trouble could be brewing.
“You’ve got to fight,” Leonard said after the Spurs committed 19 turnovers, though only seven came from the starters. “We’ve got to still execute. (We) turned over the ball a lot today. They were physical. They’ve got hands, but there’s still opportunity for us to improve. They’re still an NBA team.”
While the Spurs have won four straight overall with opponents shooting 38 percent and never more than 40.3, the Grizzlies have now lost six straight and 12 of 13 over the past month. Four of their meetings with San Antonio this season have come in that time as part of the Spurs’ seven-game winning streak in the series, and the two in Memphis coming by a 102-85 average doesn’t have the Grizzlies speaking of new life at home.
Game 3 at the Fed Ex Forum is scheduled to tip-off at 9:30 PM Eastern and can be seen on ESPN, locally on Fox Sports Southwest.