The San Antonio Spurs are heading into game 4 with their opponents, the Memphis Grizzlies, already on the ropes. With the way Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have been playing, it seems more than likely that it will also be the game in which the knockout is delivered.
After winning by 22 points in game 1, we’ve had two consecutive overtimes. And still, the overwhelming feeling is that the Grizzlies are simply outclassed by a team that does almost everything on the court better than them, even on defense.
I think that we should give them no hope, and it’s always sweet to win on the road. I’m pretty sure the whole team understands that we have to keep taking nothing for granted and keep playing our game and try to finish.
The Spurs, with Splitter, Duncan and a whole lot of excellent team defense, have taken away the Grizzlies biggest advantages on most teams – their bigs play. Both Zach Randolph (10.3 points, 30% from the field) and Marc Gasol (14.3 points, 39.1% from the field) have been playing well below their usual standards. Gasol hasn’t been able to keep up with the ball movement the Spurs have been performing, and especially the elaborate pick & roll plays which somehow always end up with the Spurs in the advantageous position.
And even when the Grizzlies do get to overtime, it’s usually on their heels. In game 3 they started out wonderfully, but struggled to get their offense going in the following three quarters, and lost by 11 points in overtime as Tim Duncan (15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.7 blocks in the series) seems to take over with perfect timing. During one of their losses to the Golden State, one of the conclusions was that Duncan hardly touched the ball in the fourth quarter. That has changed since then, and the Spurs haven’t stopped winning.
We ain’t been down like this, 0-3, so it’s a different mindset. It’s now do or die. We’ve got to come out tomorrow and come out like we came out last game and just sustain it and not break down towards the end of the game.
Teams down 3-0 and with one more home game to play don’t usually do all that well. The confidence is already quite shattered after two consecutive overtime losses (just the fourth team in NBA postseason history to lose back-to-back OT games and the first to do so in the Conference Finals), and knowing that even if they win they have to play in San Antonio again doesn’t add to their overall ability.
The Grizzlies are a strong team, tough as nails. But they’re not adjustable. Not deep enough to throw out any rabbits out of a hat, not a good enough coach to make the adjustments they need to make. Unlike the Spurs, they’ve given and shown all their cards right from the start, and right from the start everyone saw it wasn’t enough.