The Spurs hung on to win game two in overtime, despite blowing an 18-point third quarter lead, and because of that, they lead this Western Conference Finals Series 2-0. Tim Duncan scored 6 huge points in the overtime to lead the Spurs in the extra period. Let’s take a look at each team and how they look with the rest of the series looming.
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Memphis now heads home, a place where they are 5-0 during their postseason run. Despite being absolutely hammered in game one, and thoroughly outplayed for the majority of game two, the Grizzlies have reason to be confident heading home.
Team leader Zach Randolph, who played horribly in game one, and also had a bad first half in game two, looks like he is starting to get going. He finished the game with 15 points and 18 rebounds, with much of the production coming in the second half. Without Randolph playing at the top of his game, the Grizzlies do not have a chance. He has been the constant for Memphis the past few years in the playoffs and this series can be no different. As Memphis heads back home for game three Saturday, Randolph needs to continue his surge we saw late in the game in game two.
Defensive player of the year Marc Gasol is playing well for Memphis, grabbing 14 rebounds last night. When Gasol and Randolph play well together, it is nearly impossible for a team to keep up with them on the boards. Memphis lost last night, and they still outrebounded San Antonio 60-44. That needs to get better for the Spurs or they will struggle to win again in the series. Anytime you get outrebounded by large an amount, you better shoot significantly better than the other team, and yesterday San Antonio did.
The group of players that got Memphis back into the game included a pair of super subs, Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless. Both gave a lot of minutes to the Grizzlies, and both made big plays down the stretch. Bayless, however, made a poor mistake in overtime. He forced a potentially game-tying three pointer with about 12 seconds left. This was a bad mistake, but all in all, the two of these bench players gave great production for Memphis. That needs to stay consistent if they want to hold serve and win their two home games to even up the series.
For about three quarters last night, the Spurs played as pretty a game as you could play. The ball was constantly moving. Shots were being made, as the Spurs knocked down nine three-pointers. The most amazing part to watch was Tony Parker. Despite shooting poorly, which was hardly noticeable while paying attention to the rest of his game, Parker finished with 18 assists. It was a phenomenal performance, and the key to it was penetration. Parker got into the paint at will. If the defenders came to him, he would dish for a dunk or a three-pointer. If nobody came, he would take the basket himself. That is what set San Antonio apart from Memphis throughout the game. San Antonio got great penetration from their guards, while Memphis did not. San Antonio made 11 field goals in the second quarter, every single one of which came off of an assist. That is a testament to the great ball movement and overall offensive flow by the Spurs. For the game, they finished with 29 assists, while the Grizzlies finished with 19.
Though they blew a significant lead, I don’t think it will mentally affect the Spurs. They are too experienced for it to affect them. In fact, it may make them stronger. After blowing the lead, it would have been very tough for an inexperienced team to come back and win in overtime. But the Spurs didn’t blink, and their leader, Tim Duncan made three huge baskets. It was a testament to the experience of the team, and head coach Gregg Popovich, who did not panic after blowing such a huge lead. The Spurs remain, 14 years year after their initial championship, one of the most balanced teams in the league. All five starters scored at least 11 points. Not one scored more than 17. All five players that came in off the bench scored. When the Spurs play with as much flow as they did last night, and with as much balance, it is a chore, even for the defensive minded Grizzlies, to stop them.
Verdict: The Spurs lead this series 2-0, but it is far from over. Game three is back in Memphis on Saturday, and the Grizzlies rarely lose there. Despite not being able to consolidate the comeback in game two, Memphis has to have some additional confidence after making such a run. If Randolph and Gasol play well together, they are a tough team to beat. The Spurs needs to play with the same offensive flow, which makes for very pretty basketball. It is a very interesting matchup, but one thing is for sure. The Grizzlies must win game three, or the Spurs can begin to pack their bags for the NBA Finals. - Matt Rogers 5-22-13