We have arrived at another GBB Roundtable! The Memphis Grizzlies are somehow the most momentum-filled team down 0-2 to the San Antonio Spurs in history. As the Grizzlies return home to Memphis and the friendly confines of FedExForum, will this series take a turn for the better for the Bears of Beale Street?
Joining me to explore that idea and more are GBB Senior Features Writers Matt Hrdlicka and Brandon Conner, as well as GBB Feature Writers Mac Trammell, McCarty Maxwell, and GBB Video Content Editor Mark King.
Coach David Fizdale went OFF in his postgame presser after Game Two. Was he right to do so, and do you think it changes anything in this series?
Grizzlies coach David Fizdale unloads after Game 2 loss to Spurs: "That was a very poorly officiated game... Take that for data" (full rant) pic.twitter.com/Z983tOg5vd— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 18, 2017
JOE MULLINAX (@JoeMullinax)- Heck no he wasn’t wrong. Kawhi Leonard is a great player, and I am willing to acknowledge he knows how to draw fouls. Also, clearly the Grizzlies emphasize being physical as they committed more fouls on average than 28 other teams in the NBA. But for Kawhi to have 19 free throws, and the Grizzlies to only have 15? That was crap.
Does it change anything? I think it gives the Grizzlies a bit of a better shot to take game three, which is now a must-win for Memphis. That shouldn’t be discounted. But these aren’t the weak-minded Clippers we are talking about here. This is Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs machine. It probably doesn’t move the needle much, but it does make this game three more interesting to watch unfold.
MATT HRDLICKA (@theRealHrdlicka)- Fizdale is clearly the greatest orator in our nation and probably the world. He certainly shifted the narrative around the game, but all that matter is whether his players think they got screwed. If so, and if that refocuses them on the task at hand, then it might push the series back to San Antonio.
MARK KING (@king_producer)- Coach Fizdale going off in his presser was absolutely right on the money. First of all, coaches standing up for their players will always resonate with the team. They will always go out and play harder for you the next time around. Secondly, no player should ever have more FTA than an entire team, which is absolutely insane. I don't think the foul calls were unwarranted, but the Grizzlies didn’t get the same whistles on other end, and that’s the problem.
I don't know if it ultimately changes the outcome of the series in the end, but I do think it changes how the team plays game 3.
Kawhi Leonard has been an absolute monster. How would you adjust to try to slow him down as the series moves to Memphis?
MAC TRAMMELL (@Mac_Trammell)- Bribe the refs? Just kidding (am I?) — he’s been so freaking great that I have no idea what you would do. I would suggest throwing multiple defenders at him but Marc Gasol, Wayne Selden Jr., JaMychal Green, and Vince Carter have all failed to guard him. Maybe Memphis should let Kawhi cook and focus on shutting off everyone else. I miss Tony Allen.
MCCARTY MAXWELL (@McCartyMaxwell)- I'm not sure if there is a way to slow down Kawhi, there's a reason he is an MVP candidate. I do know that putting him at the free throw line 19 times is not a good strategy and that cannot be repeated. I thought James Ennis III did a pretty decent job on him, as Kawhi only made nine field goals. If you told me before the game that we would hold him under 10 field goals, I'd take that for sure. The dude just has so many weapons, but three point shooting is definitely his weakest link.
His touches need to be farther from the hoop, which could hopefully force him into deeper jump shots. He is just 1-5 from three point range in the playoffs, 38% on the year. So if anything, the Grizz could force him to takes three-pointers.
BRANDON CONNER (@BallFromGrace)- Tom Haberstroh put out a tweet the other day that showed Kawhi Leonard's production against the four players who'd guarded him on at least five plays this series. The results weren't great for anyone, which I think means Kawhi is probably going to get his as long as TA is on the sideline in his fancy suits. I think all you can do is throw the kitchen sink at him, make sure the defense is moving on a string and communicating, and pray that either Kawhi goes cold or you don't let the rest of the Spurs get wide open looks.
We have yet to see a complete game from the three best Grizzlies- Gasol, Conley, and Randolph. Would starting Zach allow for Memphis to get the most out of those three?
MULLINAX- I think that it is possible, maybe even likely, that Fizdale starts Randolph in Game Three. That would be a mistake, and a sign of a rookie coach in my estimation. Zach is best served to be a reserve at this stage of his career. Starting him over JaMychal Green impacts your defense in a very real way, and bumping JaMychal to the 3 spot, while interesting, has the potential to get really ugly, really quick. I am all for trying a new starting lineup, I am just not sure putting Zach in that spot helps enough to negate what is lost in reserve scoring.
HRDLICKA- Personally, I think ZBo should not start, but he probably will.
KING- I don't think starting Zach Randolph is the answer to the Grizzlies problems. We have always said that you will have to get everything from your two franchise players and they have yet to do that in the first two games. Starting Zach doesn't solve that issue, and they still need bench production. Zach Randolph is one of the only solid bench producers that they have at the moment and they every point they can get when Mike isn't on the floor. At this point, you have to change something, because what they are doing right now clearly isn't working.
I do think we will see a different lineup on Thursday for the start of the game, but I don't think it will be Zach Randolph who is the newcomer to the starting lineup.
Should Wayne Selden Jr. remain a starter? Who should replace him?
TRAMMELL- My imagination wants to trick me into saying Troy Daniels, but my brain knows we need a better defender out there. Which makes me also think James Ennis III could be a better answer. He played about as good defense on Kawhi as anyone else and poses a (marginally) better three point threat than Selden, so I’d have to say Ennis if anyone.
MAXWELL- Wayne Selden is nice. Check out the piece I wrote about him. I'm not sure he is a starter in the NBA. And I haven't seen enough of the other Grizzly reserves to say that Selden should be replaced. He is athletic, a strong finisher at the rim, and seems to play confidently as a rookie. He can't shoot, not doing much on the boards, and could improve defensively, but who else do the Grizzlies have that can do any better?
I am guessing/hoping it is Wade Baldwin IV. He has the same size and build, with just a little bit better ball handling skills. I don't think either one of them could make that much of a difference, but it wouldn't hurt to see what Baldwin can do.
CONNER- I think at this point, Fizdale has got to try something different, and for me, that means trying Ennis in the starting lineup in Selden's place even if I don't know that it's going to have a massive effect on results at the defensive end. I think starting Ennis gives him more opportunity to get into a rhythm offensively, and the Grizzlies need all the offensive help they can get right now.
Will the series go back to San Antonio, or will it end Saturday night in Memphis with a sweep?
MULLINAX- While any thoughts of a miracle Grizzlies run are surely fading from most minds, I do think David Fizdale’s rant will pay off and get the Grizzlies a Game Three win. The energy at FedExForum should be at a fever pitch, and after two days rest (fingers crossed) Memphis should be fresh and ready to attack the Spurs with the home crowd behind them. Spurs in five still feels most likely, but a gentlemen’s sweep is better than a sweep...right?
HRDLICKA- I think they get game 3, but Spurs in 5.
KING- I think the series will end up back in San Antonio. I think the atmosphere on Thursday will be unlike any other playoff game we have in Memphis, and that is crazy. The fact that Fizdale went off on the NBA for the poor officiating coupled with the team being back in Memphis, I think the get the first win of the series on Thursday night. The Spurs haven't won in Memphis all year and hopefully the Grizzlies will continue that streak when the Spurs come to town. I know that I don't want the season to end just yet and I don't think the majority of the fan base does either.
At least for one more night, I think we will get to enjoy a Grizzlies win.
TRAMMELL- You know it’s going back to SA. We got a little momentum even though we lost. That comeback was invigorating. And Fizdale’s presser has me (and hopefully the players) AMPED. We’ll win one no doubt #GnG.
MAXWELL- The Grizzlies will win one in Memphis. No matter what team you are, it's tough to lose four in a row to the same team. I see Game Three as a win, Fizdale did his best to fire his team up, and they had a strong second half effort in Game Two. Spurs in 5, I've said that from the beginning, and I'll stick to that.
CONNER- I think Memphis gets at least one of these games at home to send it back to San Antonio. I think after the near comeback last night and Fizz's rant, the Grindhouse should be rocking come Thursday and the Grizzlies as a collective unit tell the Spurs that they ain't gon' rook us.