There’s no way the San Antonio Spurs can hold Zach Randolph to only two points once again. It’s also hard to imagine the Memphis Grizzlies allowing Tony Parker to run wild and go down after the first quarter behind by 17 points, and losing by 22 points. Things don’t work that way in the playoffs, and two days is a whole lot of time between the opener and game 2.
Undoubtedly, the Grizzlies are the team that needs to make the adjustments. Not just in X’s and O’s, but in their heads. Show up for the series. They’re a physical bunch, but they were never closer than 8 points after the first quarter, and simply couldn’t get a rhythm going offensively, struggling to find a way to get around the Randolph problem while the Spurs simply couldn’t miss, hitting 14 three pointers.
The Spurs’ performance in the first quarter is nothing new. They’re the best 1st quarter team in the postseason so far, leading the playoff teams in point differential (6.2 per game), field goal percentage (52%) and shooting from beyond the arc (49%). In their two losses to the Golden State Warriors in the previous round it wasn’t consistent. The Spurs won 26-19 in the second loss, but were behind 28-23 in the first loss, facing the amazing shooting night of Klay Thompson.
On defense, the Grizzlies need to find out how to stop Tony Parker. It seems that the Pick & Rolls for him are where everything begins. Splitter and Duncan set excellent screens, while Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph aren’t too sure of their footing at the moment. Parker was deadly when left open, hitting 9-of-14 from the field and finishing with 25 points, either making the most of the space given to him, or backing down the big man covering him.
At some point, it’s more than just hitting the open shots. It’s about stopping the point guard from having his way on the floor. Parker had no problem finding open men because the defensive concept and confidence of the Grizzlies broke down, allowing him to dish out 9 assists as Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Matt Bonner kept finding themselves quite free time and time again.
There wasn’t a single thing, except for Marc Gasol’s shooting, that was impressive for the Grizzlies on the offensive side. Their players couldn’t find a way around Splitter and Duncan, as the Grizzlies neglected the post up which worked so well for them all throughout the postseason, and went to work on jumpers. That way, it’s impossible for them to win.
Predictions – This one is going to be much closer. The intensity and preparedness levels from the Grizzlies are going to be much higher, and both Conley and Allen will look a lot more focused on defense and subsequently, offense. The problem for the Grizzlies? Duncan had a bad game 1, and while it’s hard for him against Gasol, he should be much better this time, and with that, the Spurs shouldn’t drop in their ability or shooting percentage from game 1. Spurs take a 2-0 lead, although it’ll be much harder this time.