NBA Playoffs 2017: Did David Fizdale’s Rant Motivate the Grizzlies?
By Matthew Perez
The San Antonio Spurs will head to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies for a crucial game three matchup that could decide the fate of this series.
The biggest test of the Spurs season is inching closer.
The Spurs handled business on their home floor, winning the first two games of the series. In game three, they will travel to Memphis, where the Spurs lost two games this season.
The Spurs and the Grizzlies played four times this season, each team winning two on their home floor. No team has shown the ability to win on the road. At least not yet, anyway.
As of right now, the Spurs are favored by 3.5 points in Memphis. It’s also unclear whether head coach David Fizdale will elect to play Tony Allen, or hold him out and not risk further injury.
Fizdale went on an epic rant following game two in San Antonio, claiming that the Grizzlies were on the receiving end of “unprofessional” officiating, mainly because players like Mike Conley don’t complain after not getting the benefit of the calls. Conley proceeded to back up his coach.
Reporter: “Do you feel like you get the respect you deserve from them (officials)?”
Conley: “As far as getting to the free throw line, nah. They respect me as a person, I feel like, but when it comes to the game, i’m not sure.”
On the surface, Fizdale’s rant was aimed at the officiating, in hopes to make them aware that the Grizzlies weren’t getting the benefit of the calls in low-post area. He was astonished that Kawhi Leonard had more free-throw attempts than the entire Grizzlies team.
However, it’s purpose goes beyond the officiating. It was a head coach tearing into the officials to show that he has his team’s back, and Spurs fans should expect to see an all-out assault by the Grizzlies in game three of the playoffs.
The Grizzlies gained confidence by Fizdale’s rant, as well as erasing a 26-point deficit on the road, making it a competitive game until late in the fourth quarter. Fizdale was basically claiming that if the referees would have called this game fairly, the series would be tied 1-1.
That kind of confidence in your players goes a long way in the locker room.
Coach Fizdale has been fined $30,000 for public criticism of officiating.
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) April 19, 2017
Essentially, one of two things can happen.
- The Grizzlies come out with immense intensity, get some more opportunities at the free-throw line, and climb back into this series with a win at home or:
- Fizdale’s rant backfires, the Grizzlies barely get to the free throw line, and the Spurs rip the hearts out of all Grizzlies fans by stealing game three on the road.
It’s unclear which outcome will come to fruition, but what we do know is that this will be the most competitive game of the series, and will test the characters of both teams.
If you know anything about the Spurs, you know they’re battle tested. Whether at home or on the road, the Spurs have the ability to weather the storm, and still come out victorious.
Tomorrow will be the Spurs biggest test of the season, and judging by the play of Leonard and Tony Parker, the Spurs are in prime position to pass that test. Sweeping the Grizzlies would entail some rest before the next series, unless the Houston Rockets sweep themselves.
Stay tuned for the official prediction tomorrow before the game.